Our Culture at DataDIGEST

Maximising people’s potential

Our culture is about providing an environment in which people can reach their full potential with responsibility, integrity, creativity, and team work. People are at the heart of everything we do. We highly value all our relationships with clients, employees, partners, and the community. Each interaction is an opportunity to help people work and live better.

What does this mean for our clients?

Our clients are people, our users are people, and we are people. We never lose sight of this fact. We deliver awesome service and products with integrity, transparency, and respect. Our focus is on being a trusted partner of our clients, not just a service provider or vendor.

What does this mean for our employees?

We are all in this together, we are a team of highly motivated and creative people who work together to continuously improve ourselves and our fellow team members professionally and personally. We are DataDIGEST and the realisation of our potential is the force that drives DataDIGEST’s success.

What does this mean for our partners?

For our clients to receive awesome service we search for partners who share our values of integrity, responsibility, transparency, and respect. We prefer partners who deliver awesome service over those with lowest price, we prefer partners who value people over those who value profit. We value our partner relationships and actively build them one interaction at a time by living our values.

What does this mean for the community?

We actively help communities to reach their full potential, especially in the education sector. We are involved in professional-, digital-, and local- communities living out our values and sharing our knowledge, skills, and experience to help develop these communities and the individuals in them.

DataDIGEST’s professional technical ladders

This post is part of a series on our technical career paths,
or the technical ladders as we call them at DataDIGEST.

You can find a full index of the series at the end of this post.

We have designed the professional technical ladders and compensation levels on the following principles:

Fairness. There are no games. People on the same rung of a ladder are paid the same. You can’t hassle for higher pay, you grow and add more value to move up the ladder to get higher pay.

Transparency. A person’s rung is known, and how to move up is known. To be fair we have to be transparent, you have to know who is on your level and who is not, and why.

Competitiveness. To attract and keep the awesome people we want, our compensation structure must be market related for a company our size.

Attributes

Working at DataDIGEST means you are a member of a team of awesome people who value and cultivate the following attributes, in no specific order:

Independence of work means you take ownership of your responsibilities and you don’t suffer from the "it’s not my job" mentality.

Problem solving means you can identify problems and find, communicate, and implement quality solutions.

Creative thinking means you can think outside the box, you can look at problems and situations from different angles.

Technical flexibility means you do not live and think in a technical silo. You can comfortably switch between technology stacks, software products and services to suit the situation at hand.

Communication means you can clearly, and concisely, exchange information with other people, this includes the ability to listen, mentor, teach, report and assist.

Team work means you understand and embrace the fact that we are all in this together and we can get more done working together than we can when working alone.

Continuous learning means that you share our belief that we can always do, and be, better. You actively seek out and learn new things, to share with your team and the community at large.

These attributes permeate all our actions at DataDIGEST. We believe that teams possessing high levels of these attributes will be awesome to work in, highly efficient, highly adaptive and valuable.

The ladders

We recognise that not all technical people want to become a "manager", thus we offer technical career paths that do not have management at the apex.

At DataDIGEST we have two technical career paths/ladders:

Software development. (Development ladder) Primary focus is the business of software development. Includes not only the physical writing of code but the whole process of producing awesome software.

Operational support. (Operational ladder) Primary focus organisational ICT operations. Includes not only IT Support but all ICT operations within an organisation to ensure that the ICT infrastructure supports the organisation’s smooth and efficient operations.

Being within one career path does not mean that you are absolved from learning the skills in the other career paths, it means that you have a focus on one path. In fact, moving past level 5 competencies in both paths will be required.

Your level within a path is denoted by a number 0-7

Level 0 is for interns.

Level 1 is where new college graduates, or people new to the industry, generally start. Then they work their way up to:

Level 5, which is full professional status. Most people won’t go beyond this level.

Level 6 and 7 can be achieved only by making significant, above average contributions to DataDIGEST.

Job titles

At DataDIGEST we don’t consider job titles to be terribly meaningful, as a result of which most people on the technical ladders have the title ‘Member of Technical Staff’ with the exception of level 0 and level 7.

Level 0 Technical Intern.

Level 1-6 Member of Technical Staff.

Level 7 DataDIGEST Fellow.

Determining level

Your level is determined by assigning a score to each of the two components:

Scope is a measure of your independence of work, work ownership and quality etc. In other words: What you have taken responsibility for and are producing outputs for at our expected level of quality.

Development ladder scope guidelines

Operational ladder scope guidelines

Skill is a measure of your technical and interpersonal skills. In other words: How technically proficient you are and how well you are contributing and transferring your skills to the team.

Development ladder skill guidelines

Operational ladder skill guidelines

Calculating your level on the ladder is a simply the average of scope and skills (rounded using normal maths rules, so 3.5 becomes 4).

Enablers

Enablers are people who consistently and exceptionally enable other people to do their jobs better. They are people who motivate, rally the troops, improve morale, and provide leadership beyond their normal level. They are placed one level higher than they would otherwise deserve.


Series index
DataDIGEST’s professional technical ladders
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder skill guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder skill guidelines

Recognition


Over the years much has been published on professional ladders and career paths, thus claiming that our structure is completely original would be dishonest. In this regard I would like to recognise, and thank, Joel Spolsky, in his capacity as co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software and co-founder of Stack Overflow, for his posts on this subject.

Furthermore it would prudent to note that “Historically, Fog Creek’s Professional ladder is based on Microsoft’s professional ladder, which was adopted and publicised by Construx” – Joel Splosky.

Many of the guidelines you see here are blatantly copied, with minor modifications for the culture we are creating.


DataDIGEST’s Development ladder scope guidelines

This post is part of a series on our technical career paths,
or the technical ladders as we call them at DataDIGEST.

You can find a full index of the series at the end of this post.

Scope is a measure of your independence of work, work ownership and quality etc. In other words: What you have taken responsibility for and are producing outputs for at our expected level of quality.

Score Description
1 Works under the supervision of someone else, generally does small feature implementations, bug fixes, and small modifications. They do not own any areas of a project.
2 Works under some supervision but is able to own small-to-medium features from technical design through to completion.
3 Requires minimal supervision. Takes the initiative. Seeks empirical evidence through proof of concepts, tests and external research. Delivers major features that are well-baked and bug-free. Possesses empathy with the user of the software and uses that empathy to guide decision-making.
4 Takes personal responsibility for the whole software development process from analysis, work estimation, through to drama-free launches. Is the owning expert of certain areas and fully understands the broad architecture of the entire system. Identifies and proactively tackles technical debt. Owns the technical testing and performance planning.
5 Recognized as a prolific contributor to core and side projects. Consistently reduces complexity in order to get more done with less work. Shapes architecture and infrastructure. Makes obvious positive impact on the entire company’s technical trajectory.
6 Plays a key role in developing multi-year technology strategy for complete and critical areas of the business that encompass multiple systems and teams.

Series index
DataDIGEST’s professional technical ladders
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder skill guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder skill guidelines

Recognition


Over the years much has been published on professional ladders and career paths, thus claiming that our structure is completely original would be dishonest. In this regard I would like to recognise, and thank, Joel Spolsky, in his capacity as co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software and co-founder of Stack Overflow, for his posts on this subject.

Furthermore it would prudent to note that “Historically, Fog Creek’s Professional ladder is based on Microsoft’s professional ladder, which was adopted and publicised by Construx” – Joel Splosky.

Many of the guidelines you see here are blatantly copied, with minor modifications for the culture we are creating.


DataDIGEST’s Development ladder skill guidelines

This post is part of a series on our technical career paths,
or the technical ladders as we call them at DataDIGEST.

You can find a full index of the series at the end of this post.

Skill is a measure of your technical and interpersonal skills. In other words: How technically proficient are you and how well you are contributing and transferring your skills to the team.

Score Technical Attributes
1 You are learning the basic principles of software development; learning the different tools, resources, processes and best practices. You effectively communicate questions and status to your team. You are eager to learn new technologies. You accept feedback graciously and learn from everything you do.
2 You produce correct, clean code with guidance and consistently follow stated best practices. You rarely make the same mistake twice and you are gaining expertise in multiple areas/ technologies/ methodologies/ processes. You learn quickly and make steady progress without the need for constant significant feedback. You solve small problems, identify bigger problems and communicate their components to your team and implement responses. You are becoming technically flexible. You communicate assumptions and get clarification on tasks up front to minimise the need for rework. You are eager to find ways to improve.
3 You understand and make well-reasoned design decisions and trade-offs in your areas with guidance. You demonstrate knowledge of industry trends, infrastructure concerns, build systems etc. You creatively solve problems. You work very well in the team. You interpret and implement design decisions. You are comfortable switching between technologies, even new ones. You communicate technical decisions through design docs, tech talks, wikis etc. You mentor and transfer knowledge well. You proactively identify problems with requirements and communicate these issues early.
4 You are familiar with industry practices and therefore can work independently as necessary. You propose design approaches for review and agreement. You have worked on one or more shipping projects, and have gained experience in each of the basic software development lifecycle steps needed to ship a product. You are very competent in nearly all code-centred, detailed-design centred, and task-centred areas, and demonstrate additional competency in other software lifecycle areas. You independently and creatively solve substantial problems. You have excellent communication and teamwork skills, you make others better through code reviews, thorough documentation, technical guidance and mentoring. You facilitate technical problem solving and get buy-in for solutions. You are technologically flexible and develop and encourage it in others.
5 You are sought out for your technical guidance. You anticipate technical issues at the product level and make architectural and design decisions to avoid them. You have a record of creating sweeping improvements in stability, performance, and scalability in large projects.

Your competence extends to architecture, user interface design, project planning, documentation, deployment, fit and finish, and other project-level issues.

You independently and creatively solve major problems. You have excellent communication and teamwork skills, you multiply effectiveness in others, you listen and guide debates to help reach a consensus; once a decision is made, you clearly communicate and back that decision. You switch technology with ease. You learn new technology and methodology quickly and transfer that knowledge to others effectively.

You have not only mastered the attributes, you are actively and successfully developing and encouraging them in others.

6 You anticipate broad technical changes. You recognise and make trade-offs with respect to whole systems. You deeply understand the architecture for entire systems and are able to clearly articulate scaling and reliability limits. You act as a multiplier by building systems, authoring tools, or introducing policies or patterns that raise the level of productivity of multiple teams. You are considered a role model and mentor to all technical team members, even extending to the broader technical community.

Series index
DataDIGEST’s professional technical ladders
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder scope guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Development ladder skill guidelines
DataDIGEST’s Operational ladder skill guidelines

Recognition


Over the years much has been published on professional ladders and career paths, thus claiming that our structure is completely original would be dishonest. In this regard I would like to recognise, and thank, Joel Spolsky, in his capacity as co-founder and CEO of Fog Creek Software and co-founder of Stack Overflow, for his posts on this subject.

Furthermore it would prudent to note that “Historically, Fog Creek’s Professional ladder is based on Microsoft’s professional ladder, which was adopted and publicised by Construx” – Joel Splosky.

Many of the guidelines you see here are blatantly copied, with minor modifications for the culture we are creating.