Focusing on the Developer Experience – 7 facts about engineering at Fondion

What is it like to work in Fondion's engineering team?

“When I'm programming, I focus on improving the Developer Experience,” says Kimi Päivärinta, Tech Lead at Fondion. Kimi started working in our team in February 2023, and now he is responsible for Fondion's engineering team reaching its goals. Also, he is right now growing his team!

👉 Read more about the open tech roles at Fondion!

Fondion's tech team is right now working on several focus points on our SaaS product – a fully integrated ERP system that aims to revolutionize the construction industry.

For example, Kimi’s team is developing new integrations between the product and financial management systems, adding new employee features, and enhancing the overall user experience throughout the application. Additionally, they focus on improving and publishing public API endpoints while taking ORM into use and refactoring the API layer.

“We have started working with a great team of developer consultants, and now we’ve reached the point where we start strengthening the in-house team with committed experts”, Kimi says.

Month after month, Fondion has set sales records and the demand for our SaaS product has been proven. Next, we’re targeting the international markets. For Kimi’s team, it means keeping tech up to date and making smart decisions to support Fondion’s scalable growth.

What is it like to work in Fondion's engineering team?

#1 For those who like building things from the ground up in a small company

Kimi, born and raised in East Helsinki, was interested in computers already as a kid. Back then, it was all about gaming – but everyone around him said that Kimi’s future career will be something that has to do with information technology.

Kimi Päivärinta, Tech Lead at Fondion

“I ended up studying information technology. Since the first year of my master's degree in engineering was pure physics and mathematics, I ended up also studying business sciences. I studied a double degree in finance and big data & large scale computing”, Kimi says.

The first years in working life involved solving problems, hunting bugs and reading code, automating and minimizing manual work. He had time to work in a large corporation and in a smaller startup that grew bigger. He learned that corporate life and paperwork, bureaucracy and long approval processes don't give him the work life he hoped for.

Corporate life, paperwork, bureaucracy and long approval processes didn’t give me the work life I hoped for

Kimi ended up at Fondion because he wanted to be involved in building a small, potential startup from the beginning.

"In Fondion's culture, I would be able to make strong decisions, move forward quickly, and be free to choose at the tech level what best serves the development work. With an agile mindset, we can quickly build features for trial use, get feedback and improve things. There is a good balance between planning and implementation."

#2 A culture of psychological safety

“In a small company, people are not just faces on the other side of the screen, but we get to know each other as who we are as people”, says Kimi.

At Fondion, communication is open: we ongoingly talk about everything through open virtual channels and in meetings. We tend to always discuss the causes of the problems, and they are solved by everyone. Self-initiative, honesty and psychological safety are proven by the fact: we encourage each other to say what we think.

“During my own job interviews at Fondion, the founders said that they want to cultivate transparency and speaking your mind openly. None of the founders has an interest only in holding their own position, but everyone works together for Fondion’s success. Whoever knows the job best can do it,” says Kimi.

“When I first met the team and talked to people, I knew that I would be comfortable in Fondion's culture. With the previous Tech Lead, we looked through the code together – I saw what kind of person he is and what kind of team he had built. There were a couple of in-house experts and consultants in the team at the time. I saw that I would have an opportunity to influence what kind of team will be built from now on”, Kimi thinks back.

#3 The financial situation of the company is on a strong foundation

Fondion had its first customers even before any code had been written. Now, 3 years later, our product already has more than 100 customers. You could say that Fondion has better financial security than your average small tech startup. We are still a young company, but on the verge of reaching a cash flow positive position already.

“Fondion is an interesting scaleup to me. If you think about tech startups in general, oftentimes there are a bunch of young guys who get a business idea, without knowing the industry through and through just yet. Fondion’s founders, on the other hand, have an extremely good industry know-how, but not on the technological front. A really convincing product has been built on top of their in-depth industry knowledge”, Kimi thinks.

Right now, we’re building an option program for our employees. Its purpose is to inspire our people to build the company's long-term growth journey. Preparations have been done to launch it, such as reserving a part of the company's shares.

#4 Diversity and collaboration in practice: expertise is shared in the team seamlessly

“When we started writing down what is the core strength of our engineering team, one of the most important ones was diversity”, Kimi says.

At the moment, there are people from Croatia, Kosovo, Finland and Moldova in Fondion’s team. Different cultures naturally bring diverse working methods to the team.

However, diversity and collaboration are most strongly reflected in shared working methods, which are built strategically. The idea is that everyone in the team is able to do everything. Everyone of course has their own sweet spot, which they know very well. Still, the expertise is distributed among the team so that anyone can take care of any task, for instance.

“Diversity is ultimately reflected in the application as a whole: the more our people understand our application through and through, the better they know how to take a stand on how things should be done. This is not just a project run by one person, but many experts who bring their own strengths to it. We believe in teamwork, open discussion and communication”, Kimi says.

In the team, you can truly take on any task you choose. Even the kind you haven't done before. For example, as a backend-focused developer, you can take a frontend task and try things out.

Concretely, good collaboration can be seen, for example, in the fact that during the holiday seasons, the holidays run smoothly. Team members on vacation can safely rely on the rest of the team to keep things running.

“When I go on vacation myself, I’ll delete Slack and email from my phone without a worry”, Kimi says with a smile. This is the example he wants to set for the rest of the team.

#5 Engineering team is built on the foundation of experienced professionals

Fondion's engineering team has so far been built from experienced professionals. The certain level of seniority is reflected in the fact that each team member gets a lot of responsibility.

At Fondion, we believe in being proactive and taking ownership of your work. When you start working on a task, it's your responsibility to get it into production within a reasonable time. You're in charge from start to finish, including asking for help when needed and reminding others that a review is due.

“Responsibility can also be seen in the freedom to be self-initiative. If you encounter a problem, you get to fix it, and the rest of the team trusts that you have the know-how to make changes. I myself have learned that this is the most meaningful way to work,” Kimi says.

The investment in the development of teamwork methods can be seen in the speed of Fondion's product development. Features can be made quickly and agilely piloted for customers.

“There are currently no juniors in our team. When we have built a sufficiently good and experienced core team that understands the application, how the features work and is able to work on them independently, we have the opportunity to also include juniors in the team”, Kimi says.

Hiring juniors is a responsibility for the employer. It means providing learning opportunities, answers and support. Experienced senior developers are able to provide this, and in the future we have an opportunity to build our team also with junior professionals.

#6 Developing the Developer Experience is our core focus

Fondion's technical environment has been built into a process environment from the beginning. Jira is used for product management – development tasks are carefully documented and the desired business value is recorded. In this way, it is clear in retrospect why things were done, and what value it was intended to create. All things done are linked to a business decision.

“From the beginning, we have aimed to implement the best practices of software development. For example, the code is always viewed via pull requests with “the two sets of eyes” method. Code cannot go into production through just one pair of eyes, but someone else has looked at it. This creates quality and also offers a learning experience”, Kimi says.

From the beginning, Fondion’s engineering team has also invested in the developer experience. It means that we take advantage of best practices and also constantly improve our working methods. It is important to us that we continue to adopt new best practices. For example, we automate everything we can.

“This way there is as little annoying manual work as possible for the developers. The tests are run automatically in the pull request, so no one needs to worry whether the tests were run, when they definitely were. Automatic code formatting & linting ensures that the code looks the same to everyone. The code is taken to production as often as possible – several times a week. This way, the amount of simultaneous changes can be kept small”, says Kimi.

Therefore, in everyday life, repetitive work is at a minimum, and you can focus on work that produces added value. By automating things, you can focus on the meaningful things: creating and designing features and producing high-quality code.

#7 Modern technology choices

“I personally like our tech stack because it is based on Python and Javascript. These are indeed the most used in the world, and I think Python is an easily approachable programming language. These are the cornerstones of the stack”, Kimi says.

The frontend has Typescript in use, which brings a modern perspective and quality, as well as ease of use for developers. The frontend is built with React – currently the most popular library, because it has been found to be very functional, there are many users, experts and support available for its use.

“The backend has a more modern FastAPI because we want to rely on typing. It enables the utilization of typings and easy building of interfaces with API endpoints,” Kimi says.

SQLAlchemy is in use to make things more efficient. ORM as a database access layer is enabling efficiency. Utilizing the cloud is modern, and that's why the infrastructure runs on AWS as infrastructure as code.

An effective technology stack also delivers the best developer experience and therefore, ultimately, the optimal customer experience.

👉 Why not check out the open tech roles at Fondion right now!

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