QuotaPath ‘shapes up’ its engineering workflow to scale up

When Mike Bagwell joined QuotaPath in May 2019, he was one of five engineers – and just the 14th employee hired. Now, the Philly and Austin-based startup is doubling its current engineer count to 30 total.

QuotaPath makes a commission tracking and compensation management tool for salespeople. This month, the SaaS company raised $ 41 million for its Series B less than a year after its Series A.

Witnessing the company’s growth from a front-row seat is exciting, Bagwell said, but it doesn’t come without challenges. QuotaPath had to expand the number of engineering teams – from one to three, now moving up to six – while onboarding an influx of new hires.

“We felt like we were getting slower and struggling to scale with the new team structure,” said Bagwell, an engineering team lead at QuotaPath. “A lot of that has to do with high-priority bugs coming in. Our software deals with money, so it can be very important to quickly fix a bug if someone needs to run a payroll by the end of the week. ”

“Something like that would come up and just completely stop progress on an ongoing feature that we wanted to get out the door.”

Like any true startup, QuotaPath adapted – with the Shape Up workflow.

What is Shape Up?

Like Agile or Scrum, Shape Up is a product development framework. Shape Up was designed by the folks at Basecamp when its team was struggling to scale from a team of four to 50.

Basecamp published “Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work That Matters,” a book about the methodology, so other engineering units can replicate it.

After a colleague on QuotaPath’s product team suggested the workflow, engineering team leads read the book and listened to podcasts about it. The SaaS company began to implement Shape Up in late 2021, he said Ashley Sheppardan engineering team lead.

Per Sheppard, QuotaPath adopted two aspects of Shape Up: six-week work cycles followed by two-week cooldowns and its “shaping the work” principle. According to the Shape Up book, the latter means “projects are defined at the right level of abstraction: concrete enough that the teams know what to do, yet abstract enough that they have room to work out interesting details themselves.”

Sheppard said adopting the Shape Up timeline has honed engineering teams’ focus, which has prevented defects that burnt-out teams often miss.

“We know we’re going to be done and moving on to the next thing,” she added. “You don’t feel like you get stuck in these projects that go on and on. And you always have a rest period to anticipate as well. ”

The growing engineering teams at QuotaPath

Shape Up is enhancing QuotaPath’s workflow at a crucial point in its hiring process – and is a symptom of the company’s adaptive culture, Sheppard said.

“When people ask what kind of people we’re looking for, I always mention being comfortable with change because we are a fast growing startup,” she said.

QuotaPath is hiring engineers at all levels of experience, she said. For Sheppard, QuotaPath is the second company where she worked with CTO Eric Heydenberkone of Technical.ly’s 2019 RealLIST Engineers.

Knowing he was at the company gave her confidence that it would have a strong tech stack and, more importantly, a collaborative, positive team environment. At a company-wide level, QuotaPath is guided by five core values: curiosity, empathy, inclusivity, trust and data-driven work.

Bagwell, who also knew Heydenberk before joining QuotaPath, said the candidates who stand out to him during the hiring process are people who express a genuine passion for coding.

Bagwell received an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and was introduced to software engineering while running a website for a small printing press. His general interest in programming grew into an obsession.

An odd jump? Bagwell said creative writing and coding have a lot of similarities – and QuotaPath wants to hire impassioned folks, no matter their background in coding.

“There’s a craft to coding, where you can write something and it gets the job done, but it’s not necessarily legible or the best way to go about it,” he said. “There’s craft and refinement. Good code is poetry. ”

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