Inside the Evolution of Favor’s Engineering Team
When Senior Product Manager Alison Anthony joined delivery company Favor in 2019, the product team was drastically different than it is today.
Since then, scrappy processes have become powerful frameworks, and features are now implemented in record time.
“We’re continuously adapting and looking for new ways to improve how we work, and we’ve committed to being as agile as possible without sacrificing quality,” Anthony said.
These changes are a part of a larger evolution that defines the company’s engineering and product teams. According to Director of Engineering Jonathan Lara, the partnership between both teams has strengthened over the years to strike a balance between decision-making and ownership.
“To achieve this, we have been investing in parts of our business that make the collaboration between engineering and business stakeholders more effective,” he explained.
This investment has taken various forms, from an increase in technical leadership roles to a stronger focus on feedback. For Lara, these advancements have offered the company’s engineers access to a more engaging and empowering workplace experience.
“We encourage our engineers to have a voice in what the future of Favor looks like,” he said.
When Senior Android Software Engineer Adam Schlough joined the company’s customer support team, he soon realized just how much the company enables its people to shape the future. After taking part in an “Intern(al)ship” program, where he shadowed a few of the company’s engineers, he had the chance to join the QA team.
Through this experience, Schlough believes that he’s been able to grow significantly — which he attributes to the company fostering curiosity and autonomy.
“A huge part of my personal development has been the freedom to pursue new challenges,” he said. “As our team grows, the sky really is the limit. We have many more resources and systems in place to help the team hit the ground running and build solutions while maintaining that same scrappy mindset and passion we had in the early days.”
Maintaining Critical Teamwork
At Favor, teamwork is the key to technological success, defining every stage of product development.
“From the inception of a feature to the final launch, there’s consistent input and collaboration from both engineering and product on how to best achieve our goals,” Schlough said.
That’s why it’s critical for engineering and product teams to ensure this teamwork remains as strong as possible. In response to this need, the company added several technical leads to provide expertise to engineers, product team members and managers.
“This drives quicker feedback loops, better decision-making and stronger mentorship to more junior engineers on each team,” Lara explained.
He added that the company has invested in its data architecture and business analytics teams to help streamline decision-making for stakeholders. It has also adjusted the product teams’ focus areas, allowing them to concentrate on one single theme to avoid constant context switching. Additionally, the organization has expanded its core services team and established site reliability squads, all of which will make testing and experimentation easier and more efficient.
According to Lara, engineers now have plenty of opportunities to engage with the company’s product thanks to hackathons, a culture of dogfooding and the implementation of heads-down, no-meeting weeks. With these shifts, Favor aims to allow its engineers to play a more active role in informing product decisions.
Hackathons, a culture of dogfooding and the implementation of heads-down, no-meeting weeks allow Favor engineers to play a more active role in informing product decisions.”
“It’s really important for us to provide avenues to get engineering feedback and shape the direction of our product,” Lara said. “We try to give engineers the space to bring up ideas and solutions that can then be productionalized.”
From an engineering perspective, one of the company’s top priorities is to ramp up its developer experience squads and platform organization. Lara explained that the developer experience squads help to simplify the cognitive load required to be a successful engineer.
“By focusing on the developers’ lifecycle, optimizing engineers’ day-to-day work and providing shorter feedback loops, we aim to create the best experience possible for our engineering team members,” he said. “It’s an ambitious goal, but we have gathered amazing people and invested heavily in this vision in order to see it come to fruition.”
TRAITS OF TOP TALENT
When looking for new talent, Lara said his team often searches for individuals with both technical chops and a history of career progression — but that’s not all. “We look beyond that to find candidates who are able to reflect and articulate the business impact of the solutions they’ve implemented,” he said. Considering three-sided marketplaces, such as Favor, present unique challenges, Lara’s team also aims to hire people with a hunger to solve problems, experiment and iterate.
Growth and Support Go Hand in Hand
Having the chance to tackle exciting work in an intentionally structured, engaging work environment isn’t the end-all reason to join Favor — it’s the growth and support that comes with it that makes technologists, such as Schlough, grateful to be on the team.
“Whether I’d like to investigate a new technology as a potential solution to a problem or help lead a project I’m passionate about, I’ve always felt support from those around me,” he said.
Lara believes that, although team members own their own professional development, it’s up to managers to help guide them on their growth journey.
“We can play a really important role in helping navigate the conversations and find opportunities for development that align with where they are now and where they see themselves in the future,” he said.
With access to professional development opportunities, including internal promotions, employees are empowered to achieve their career goals. And according to Lara, a focus on work-life balance makes it easy for team members to prioritize their personal lives as well.
“I’ve been through three major life events in the past couple of years, and each time I was provided all the support I needed,” he said. “I was able to spend time with my family and even had peers volunteer to cover for me while I was away.”
I’ve been through three major life events in the past couple of years, and each time I was provided all the support I needed.”
Whether they’re trying to improve workflow and process efficiencies or solve complex business solutions, Favor’s technologists are continuously striving for more — both for themselves and for their team. And, given the company’s ongoing growth, Lara believes those who join the organization over the next few months will be met with endless opportunities to excel.
“Favor is at the perfect stage right now where every single person can create and see a huge impact with the work they are doing each day,” he said.