Last summer after leaving Raindance and before getting Lijit launched I did a few consulting gigs, some with fairly well know companies around the Colorado area. There was one over-riding theme to those engagements. And now as the Lijit team has grown and the success and demands of the team have grown, I see the same theme emerging. Young companies are bad at Operations.
If you have no idea what Operations is, from my experience talking to people, you're not alone. Operations or Operations Engineering are groups within a company that performs software releases, scale infrastructure, plan for capacity, build monitoring tools, create repeatable engineering practices that support the operations of the product (they should own QA as well in my opinion). Most companies I have seen under about 30 employees don't have this group. Amazingly several companies I know of with over 100 employees don't either. And it bites them in the ass over and over, and without fail in my investigations, they have no idea why.
It's understandable how companies end up in this position. At first no one comes to your web site, the site hardly does anything and hardly integrates with anyone so it's easy to operate, easy to check, easy to upgrade, and when it's down, no one cares. As the company scales, however, you have to adopt processes and controls to keep the most likely bug from appearing, your own people. Now when I say processes and controls I'm not talking about the Sarbanes Oxley silliness that in the IT would provides next to no value. I'm talking about people who live for the thrill of 'operating' the infrastructure.
My first job out of college was flight software test for onboard flight control computers (it sucked). By necessity we would test the hell out of that stuff. When that software finally got to deployment, it was as close to perfect as possible. And when the software crashed at the end of the runway one day as the pilot was getting ready for his takeoff roll, we were excited. Excited seems like a strange concept, but if you have confidence in your systems and the way you have operationalized them you are intrigued when they break. Conversely, if your teams first thought is "oh yeah, I can see that", then you are not excellent at this.
This subject of Operations and Operations Engineering comes up in my mind again mostly because I'm getting together with Bryce Ambraziunas this afternoon for a goodbye from Raindance beer. Bryce is leaving Raindance after 8 and half years as the VP/SVP of Operations there. He and his excellent team have been amazing at their jobs for as long as I can remember. Raindance sucked at Sales, always did, but it was always great at Operations. As will happen when you have been somewhere along time, you can lose sight of your achievements and the expertise you have acquired. Coming from someone who has poked around town for while, your talents are in high demand – sometimes companies just don't have an expectation of how much better things can be.
Good luck, I would hire you if I could afford you!