Clarity Ventures – Austin, TX
The Technical Project Manager(TPM) provides planning, management, oversight, and communication, both internal and external (client facing) for custom… Clarity Ventures
Clarity Ventures – Austin, TX
Clarity is seeking a inbound marketing expert to execute on key marketing initiatives. You will work with top management & experienced Inbound… Clarity Ventures
Clarity Ventures – Austin, TX
Clarity is seeking a Front end Web Developer who will be responsible for developing and updating dynamic web sites for our clients. You'll be joining… Clarity Ventures
Clarity Ventures – Austin, TX
Write C# .Net customizations to meet project requirements for specific implementations of our eCommerce, Integration and other custom application… Clarity Ventures
Clarity Ventures – Austin, TX
• Make the necessary calls (20-40 dials per day) to assist prospects through sales funnel (significant marketing investment goes into making sure… Clarity Ventures
I have been working at Clarity Ventures full-time (More than a year)
I spent several hours reading the other reviews on Glassdoor about Clarity and noticed a trend of issues that were prevalent in Clarity in the passed and I know we have improved upon, especially since I've been driving some of the change myself. In an effort to alleviate concerns for newcomers thinking of joining the Clarity Team, I put together this writeup addressing the concerns of the reviewers in the past. While I have reviewed all of these items with management here, this is my wording with what I have seen and at Clarity that shows how much better it is to work here than some of these reviews make it appear. Salary vs Hourly Concerns The first 90 days of employment with Clarity, you are considered a Temp or Contract employee. This is your proving period to ensure that you fit in with Clarity's culture and business model. At the end of 90 days, a decision is made whether or not to move forward into a full-fledged salaried employee. The complaints specifically about getting paid hourly when advertised as salary, that shouldn't that be illegal, etc. are from previously employees still in their proving period. At the time (up to mid-2014), as you were still a contract employee, your employment contract stated you were paid for the billable hours you worked. Your hourly rate includes a small bump to cover the cost of 5 weekly hours of training and administrative time (PM and Team meetings, etc.). If you did not meet your billable goal, you would only receive pay for the hours worked. As you worked less than the goal, this went disfavorably against the amount in the bump that was intended for training/admin time. Billable goals were originally 38 hours with 2 training/admin hours. As we became more stable and profitable, the billable goal was reduced to 35 hours with 5 training/admin. Later in 2015 we expect the licensing revenue of our eCommerce platform to allow us to reduce this further to 32+8 hours. There are also several internally billable tasks you can accomplish for the company if you volunteer to spearhead the project. For instance, if you know a lot about database security and want to establish guidelines for all projects to follow, we will happily consider time worked on such things, so long as they are pre-approved. To counter these complaints, we have a policy in place now that you do not receive less than your salaried rate (35*hourly rate) even if you didn't meet your goal during the proving period. Clarity management will work with you on ensuring you are capable of meeting your goals when the issue arises. If after multiple reviews during your proving period you are still unable to meet your goals, we will simply decline to move you into the salaried position at the end of the proving period. In the cases where this occurred, as a courtesy, we will provide some time to allow you to locate new employment elsewhere and transition out. Either way, after your 90 day proving period, you would receive your salaried pay as a minimum as part of your salaried employee contract terms. This has always been the case. About 85% of the time, the 1st review resolves issues with meeting billable goals. We end up clarifying hours not recorded as billable actually were and cleaning up some time management issues developers new to this process tend to have. Overall, we basically expect to have to have to have the first review about this after you have gotten your feet wet, so we can make these clarifications. I personally was just barely meeting my goal until I found out about time tracking for a client being billable to that client. With some other adjustments, the next pay period went significantly more smoothly. Having experienced some of the 'tossed in the deep waters' myself, I've assisted with establishing more training curriculum for new team members including PluralSight training videos, shadowing similar team members, strong wiki documentation for how to set up your development environment, what tools we use, best practices for time logging and management, etc. Also, we've got a much longer ramp up time in terms of training counted as billable during the first 2 months instead of 2 weeks. No 401k option is available through the company There are several financial reasons why this hasn't happened yet. Our new licensing model for the eCommerce platform will extend profitability and allow us to make a selection with a 401k supplier. As it is, there's nothing preventing you from activating your own 401k or IRA with a financial institution of your choice and having part of your direct deposit contribute to that account. If 401k or IRA contributions are important to you, bring it up during your interviews and ask how Clarity can assist with this until we can provide a full 401k package. Extra non-billable to meet billable Extra time should not in any way be required. If you need help, someone can help you figure out what you need to do/be doing to not have to work overtime just to scrape by your goals. A big part of this complaint is from former developers still in their proving period that haven't adjusted or received enough training, which we have improved upon per my notes above. Project Manager vs. Principal Role We had gone through multiple less-than-adequate project managers in 2014 and so held off on hiring additional PMs to split the PM task and project load. We have hired a new PM starting spring 2015 and will have another in summer 2015. In 2012, Project Managers and Sr. Back End team members met and discussed a Principal model. Principals are Pseudo PMs which are developers comfortable with maintaining the customer relationship directly without the need for a PM as a middle-man. This reduces cost to the client as there are fewer meetings and miscommunications about features, bugs, etc. Principals also alleviate some of the stress of needing additional PMs and this role comes with additional compensation. We are guilty of expecting more Principal-like actions from non-principal developers when we shouldn't have been. We have more strongly advised our team members that if they do not wish to perform client communication, then to leave it to Principals and PMs. You don't have to do it unless you volunteer. Time Logging Time logging has been very 'fend for yourself', 'find your own best practices' for managing and logging your time. What works for one doesn't work for everyone and having to do it all the time in order to keep up and is a regular distraction from actual client work. As Clarity is a Time & Materials company, just like law firms or cleaning companies. All client time must be logged and there is no way around that. We are settling in on a couple of time logging tools and determining what is necessary to integrate them into a single system. At present, the core time logging tool used for client billing is antiquated by a few years. Upgrading this system and ensuring 'convenience' integrations with other tools are available by summer 2015 is a company goal. By the time this is complete, you will just have a project timer app to stop-watch each time you start a new task. Then at the end of the day assign the time blocks to the tasks and PMs will take care of the rest. We have also noticed many team members billing down to the second and trying to calculate out for tracking. Clarity has standardized on quarter hour billing (0.25 hours/15 mins). This takes a lot of the headache around time logging management out. Development Environments Were terrible, very slow, duplicating programs and frustrating to work on. Instead of requiring developers work in the cluttered development VM environments provided, we're working towards Local development. The developer will have visual studio and other tools loaded to their laptops. We are providing more powerful processors and additional RAM to laptops as needed to accomplish this. Unfortunately there are significant costs with some of the licenses for dev tools so we have to roll out slowly. By summer 2015, all development will occur locally with the original development VMs becoming Staging servers only with automated nightly builds, unit testing, etc. Reworking, having to fix other developer's poor work Strong source control requirements & Continuous Integration methods are being worked into daily life for our client projects with more reviews by lead team members over quality of work. We're implementing coding guidelines, like installing StyleCop and requiring no errors on an audit, etc. We've also set up a Dev Ops team to assist with common issues developers have working with systems like DotNetNuke (specifically, we can get DNN to compile for you so you only have to be responsible for getting your own work to compile). Dev Ops can also be a useful research resource if you are stuck on a problem. Estimates nowhere near correct The Discovery process with clients is now significantly more intensive with greater estimates based on the past performance of the company and lessons learned. These issues are significantly reduced with clients that have started within the last year. Unfortunately, we still have many clients that due to financial constraints on the client end have dragged out longer than they should. These clients were set up before these additional discovery practices were in place which causes some strain for Clarity team members working against low estimates. We have cleaned over 75% of these clients from the roster by completing their projects in 2014 and early 2015, sometimes at Clarity's cost. No QA One of the lowest estimates points in the discovery process was QA and often a client is unable or unwilling to pay for the additional hours of QA to ensure a site is fully functional without hiccups. We have a dedicated QA team member now and estimates have been expanded for QA time as well as making it very clear to the client that without proper QA, they will be dragging out their long term maintenance costs. Clients are encouraged that when a deliverable has been met (for instance a form on a page) they should extensively QA it internally as well to validate it does what they intended it to do. The client is always the final sign-off on functionality. Should Walk Away from accounts we can't properly serve Due to the number of issues arising from working with clients on very tight or small budgets, especially entrepreneurs looking to make their first business venture, Clarity is now moving to support more clients which are well established companies looking for a site refresh or extra functionality. We simply have too many communications issues working with low budget clients that expect sites that would cost $250k for only $50k and argue with us for additional features and functionality without paying for it. This is more strongly related during the Discovery process now, to ensure that smooth communication can continue throughout the life of a project. Prioritizing Paying customers over Unpaid The core fact remains that Clarity is a Time and Materials company, we bill specifically against the work that we do and clients receive a discount for paying invoices of blocks of hours before the work starts. If a client is unwilling or unable to pay, we must stop work to focus on clients that can and do pay. The projects are never abandoned and with a strong client relationship, we are willing to extend unpaid time for several weeks, in some cases months if necessary to accommodate a client. However, in 2013 and 2014 we had some clients that took advantage of our relationship with them and delayed payment significantly. To the point that one client is now more than $125,000 in debt to clarity and refuses to pay. This is a significant issue as we had to take a loan out in order to cover employee salaries. We have no intention of letting this happen again. No Management We're working on expanding the management roles to team members capable of handling the requirements of a developer manager role. At present, only the back end development team does not have an additional manager and these team members each report to the CEO directly. We hope to have a new manager hired within the next few months. In Conclusion • Lots of growing pains • Many processes established for streamlining and we're actually doing them • It takes time to adjust to the business model but once you have, it's amazing • Near 0 client communication required. If you are not comfortable with something, find someone • More clients that better fit our business model means more and more happy customers. • Take on as much additional responsibilities as you want with additional compensation for the role • We are definitely listening to the feedback and doing what we can, as we can to make things better.
It's taken a lot of effort to make the changes we need, and there's still more to go.
Advice to Management
Keep listening and growing.