Working at Service Objects: An Engineer’s Perspective

Service Objects has been building APIs and web services to help companies solve data quality issues, fight fraud and make better business decisions since 2001. Our goal is to ensure the most genuine, accurate data possible, and build valuable services that help our clients with their biggest data quality needs. We currently maintain 24 specialized APIs, along with hundreds of custom integrations to handle pretty much any client data needs.

In this article, I would like to take you backstage and show you what it’s like to work for Service Objects as an engineer, for two reasons. One is to share the great workplace and business culture behind our products. And second, if you are a talented technical professional, encourage you to consider joining us!

A good balance: small company feel and big company stability

When looking for a new opportunity, do you like a larger, more stable company, or a small, fast-paced but potentially volatile company?

Larger companies often offer higher base salaries and great benefits, along with the stability of solid revenues, but it is easy to get lost in the mix. You might be a small cog in a large machine and have fewer opportunities to impact the business in a meaningful way. And for many employees, jobs are likely more specialized, and you might be stuck doing the same thing day in and day out.

In a small company or a start-up, everything you do matters, and you have opportunities to help shape the company. At the same time, the volatility and instability of a small company add an additional level of stress, as you try to generate revenues and establish a core base of customers. You could have a great product or idea, but with a bit of misfortune or poor management, find yourself looking for a new job. Unlike the big company where you might be stuck doing the same things, you might have to wear many hats, some of them ill-fitting, and come to find the sheer amount of work that needs doing to be overwhelming.

Service Objects feels like a bit of both. We are still a reasonably small engineering team. In the last 20 years, we have focused on providing exceptional products and outstanding customer care, earning us a solid client base that provides stability and flexibility – we aren’t going anywhere. But we still have that small company feel. Every member of the team is important, and our managers genuinely care about their team members and their professional development.

Service Objects strongly supports a healthy work/life balance, knowing that happy employees are both invested and productive ones. If an employee is working long hours, we will try to find ways to get to the source and figure out ways to help. In addition to strong benefits, generous holidays, and time off, it is not unusual to have half days and extra days off sprinkled in here and there. Our office is in beautiful downtown Santa Barbara, but we also fully support and welcome remote employees, as well as, flexible schedules.

A collaborative company

Our Service Objects team is very collaborative, both in their departments and as a whole. Departments have short huddles every morning to make sure any roadblocks keeping us from doing our best work for the day are addressed. We brainstorm monthly (or more) to make sure we are working on the projects we need to be working on – including new ideas, shoring up existing services, and ensuring that our infrastructure is secure and top-notch. We take feedback directly from our clients on their needs and ways to improve our products.

Unlike larger companies, where they meet annually to determine the course for the next year, our management team meets quarterly offsite to make sure we are all moving in the same direction, address the needs of our staff, and focused on the projects most important to our clients and the company. Two of these quarterly meetings invite other members of our teams to gain a larger perspective and bring their ideas to the ideation process. This helps cycle in new ideas and ensures that everyone has a voice. From these meetings, we have seen quick pivots to address the biggest needs of our clients or the industry.

The main point here is that there are a lot of opportunities for Service Objects team members to influence the direction of the company. All voices are valued, and all ideas are thoughtfully considered. We feel this is one of our competitive advantages and helps give our team members a sense of ownership in what they are doing.

An agile engineering team

Much of the above applies to the entire company. For the engineering teams, we borrow heavily from Agile and Scrum project management approaches. While our needs do not perfectly align with those methodologies, we find the core principles to be highly valuable, including breaking down larger projects into deliverable pieces that we build into monthly “sprints.”

We are a small but efficient group. Since we offer 24 distinct services that all have different purposes, month to month we might be working on something completely different. In any given month, we might be building algorithms to validate if “Bob Smith” is a real person, building a dataset to pull in unusual addresses from extremely rural and often unknown areas, or improving process to streamline deployments of our services.

Our products are also ever-evolving, so there is always something new and exciting to work on. For example, many of our tools help fight fraud. Fraud is constantly evolving, both in sophistication and points of attack. In response, we are constantly evolving our products to help fight it, only limited by our creativity. New ideas are welcome and often acted upon. Our engineers are encouraged and supported to learn new skills and suggest both software and infrastructure improvements where necessary.

A sense of purpose

The work we do here is important. That personally gives me a sense of satisfaction. Whether we are helping a company identify the bad guys hitting their website, writing a piece of code that enriches data points for a client, or saving them from spending valuable time hand-checking bad data, we are helping our clients perform better while helping reduce waste and encourage environmental conservation.

Our Core Values also resonate with many people:

Customer Service Above All. Our clients come first, and we do what we can to help them solve their toughest problems, building services that are geared toward that goal.

Network Excellence. It doesn’t matter how good your data and services are if your networks fail to deliver it. We pride ourselves on robust processes, services and network performance.

Happy and Healthy Workplace. Our company lives by the value that the best companies have happy employees.

Corporate Conservation. Not to be outdone by our other values, in addition to our services helping companies eliminate waste (such as helping companies send less mail or not deliver to incorrect locations), we practice what we preach. We are proud partners with One Tree Planted, making monthly donations for tree planting worldwide. We recently moved to a smaller more environmental-friendly office space, recycle, use highly efficient virtualized servers, and sustainable office supplies. This is has been one of our values from the beginning.

These are all examples of our workplace culture behind our products and the excellent customer service we provide – and why I enjoy working here so much. And if this sounds like a place you would like to work, visit our Careers page and consider joining us!

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