A few years ago I had the opportunity to work on a project that, at the time, felt so obvious as an idea that I was shocked at how little time and attention was being given to this enormous opportunity: Engineering Analytics.
The shock wasn’t so much about whether or not it was important to understand how software was being built within technology organizations (all organizations are software-bound these days) – those are clearly table stakes!
Rather, the shock was more related to the fact that some of the most brilliant software engineering minds of our day still hadn’t come up with an effective way to measure engineering work in a way that didn’t negatively impact morale and that didn’t feel like an Orwellian, big-brother-ish system that reduced people to mere data points.
You’d think that the very same people that have built multi-billion dollar software businesses that impact millions (if not billions) of users globally, would also have figured out how to instrument software organizations maximally!
But you’d be wrong.
My guess is that it’s because most of the founders and technical leaders within those organizations simply don’t have the experience that Jeff and Nolan have, especially after having built tools like Appcelerator / Titanium (acquired by a global tech company, Axway in 2016) which is a software toolkit used by millions of developers around the world and that helped spark the eventual democratization of mobile app development.
So, when I first met up with them in a small Japanese restaurant in Palo Alto (great convos are always handled with 🍣!) and they showed me some of their progress, I was utterly convinced they had “the sauce” and I wanted to be a (small) part of their story.
Fast-forward a few years and Pinpoint is ready to unveil their much-needed platform and the world is going to be better for it (and it’s about time).
There are too many amazing features to really highlight in-depth but at a high-level what Pinpoint does better than anyone else on the market is surfacing engineering data in a non-destructive way (i.e. doesn’t require the organization and/or team to fundamentally change their existing workflows and processes) while providing intelligent and actionable insights to the folks that are actually doing the work.
Although these insights may make sense for larger enterprise organizations where the cost-savings and benefits might scale more broadly, smaller and more nimble teams like my own (with ~8 technical folks) can still find net-positive outcomes (especially as the product continues to mature).
What Jeff and Nolan know better than most is that the engineering culture within an organization is functional combination of the people and the accepted cultural processes and that manual data collection about these two necessary components is now a thing of the past; in fact, if anyone finds themselves doing anything manual in today’s automated economy has essentially hamstrung their software development lifecycle.
And that’s not good for business.
Efficiency, effectiveness, cost-savings, and performance management are hard questions to answer for any technical leader or executive in yesterday’s engineering world. Today, though, I’m happy to say that that no longer has to be the case as Pinpoint is now going public with their service – it’s a real gift and treat for the today’s modern tech company.
My own personal story and path intersected with Jeff and Nolan for a brief time when they were first putting things together but since then they’ve done a kickass job of putting together an incredible team with some of the very best financial partners from both coasts.
I also count Jeff as a personal friend and mentor; you see, all of the really good tactics and strategies that I’ve used to lead my own company I’ve pretty much copied and/or stolen from him!
But here’s my point: What excites me most about what Jeff and the team have accomplished is the fact that they have figured out the “holy grail” around engineering analytics – a system of record that doesn’t reduce people to just machine-learned data points.
Instead, they know from first-hand experience what it’s like being software engineers and how ineffective and demoralizing many of the existing “engineering management tools” can be when they don’t consider the person who actually does the work.
No one wants to be a statistic or a “cog” in the machine, subject to executive “leadership” that ignorantly (not always their fault, though) attempts to “optimize” performance through archaic and antiquated tools – rather, we all want to be recognized for the work that we do while also given objective and constructive data that allows improvements to be organically surfaced and that gives the individual contributor the freedom to maximize our own workflows and patterns of behavior for everyone’s benefit.
Real, effective, impactful software creates more freedom and agency within the system instead of constricting limitations and administrative overhead!
Pinpoint’s human-centric platform is only possible because Jeff and Nolan care about people, full stop. It’s what originally attracted me to them and their work and it’s what still gives me goosebumps when I see it in action.
The future of software development has always been predicated on great people having best-in-class tools that enable them to do outsized work without burnout or morale-reducing workflows. The future of software is Pinpoint and I’m so grateful to have been a part of their continuing story of success.