A Value-Driven Approach to Paylocity's Engineering Principles

June 30, 2022

Discover how our engineering principles set a framework that is transparent to our teams and guide us as we invest and grow in new ways.

By: Rachit Lohani, Chief Technology Officer, Paylocity

Note: This article originally appeared on Medium.

Culture is a big reason why people join and stay with Paylocity. Our culture allows us to sustain hypergrowth by empowering our teams to move faster. With that growth comes the need to leverage the economies of scale as a larger organization. We believe that a set of shared engineering principles help us invest and grow in new ways while remaining true to those principles. It is also our belief that a standard set of engineering principles give us a common framework that is transparent to our teams and guide us as we make investment decisions.

Our conversations about new technologies, approaches, patterns, or features are grounded in a similar set of underlying principles that we all understand and constantly aspire to. These engineering principles are the foundation for our Product and Technology core values and an extension of our company-wide values At Paylocity, we share five overarching values across the company:

  • Earn it Every Day: Anything worth doing is worth doing well. We also believe greatness isn’t bestowed; it’s earned.
  • Growth Fuels Opportunity: Continuous growth is an essential good. When our clients grow, we grow! But it’s not just about revenue or that “biggest” is our ultimate goal. It’s about maximizing success by realizing our greatest potential — personally, professionally, organizationally, and for our clients.
  • Think Next Generation: The ideal response to the status quo is a continual hunger for something better.
  • Live the Reputation: Integrity matters, and we do what we say because trust is our most valuable asset and the hardest to earn!
  • Be Unbeatable Together: No one part is greater than the whole, no matter the role. “We” is what makes us different. So, we’re intentional about silo-busting and flattening out hierarchies.

We also have core values for our Product and Technology organization that help us deliver on meeting our customers’ unmet needs: Accountable Ownership, Unmitigated Curiosity, Relentless Delivery, Holistic, Inclusive Design, and Empowered Teams.

From our company values and Product and Technology values, we derived our engineering principles that drive us, and we constantly aspire to fulfill.


Product & Technology Values and Engineering Principles

Earn It Every Day

Accountable Ownership

Extreme ownership, Simplify, Be curious

  • You build it, you run it: Building software at scale means always ensuring a healthy production environment through extensive monitoring, alerting, and understanding how the changes will behave in production – both in terms of functionality and performance. When our customers inevitably experience pain in production, the teams own the issues and work towards a solution with our customers in mind. This requires up-front design that allows for easier operations. This principle also implies that we will invest in tooling to make it easier for design and build purposes.  
  • Reduce toil: Automation allows us to better leverage operational teams and deliver more quickly and safely. Our investment in automation enables teams to develop and manage solutions that reduce toil. 
  • Quality is everybody’s responsibility: Not only do we build quality in from the beginning, but every member of every team is equally responsible for ensuring quality. This means test automation is built as features are built – often by the engineers building those features! 
Growth Fuels Opportunity

Unmitigated Curiosity  

Growth mindset, Open to change, Success and scale

  • Relentless reuse: By leveraging the same, default starting point, our teams can focus more on unlocking value for our customers and less on solving technical problems that are solved by other teams. When existing solutions don’t work (for whatever reason), we invest in making those solutions better before diving into new solutions.  
  • Plan for scale: We plan for success, ensuring that as utilization increases, we know how the functionality and underlying infrastructure will scale without failure. 
  • Data is a shared asset: Every piece of data in our suite has an authoritative source but can be accessed by an individual application that needs it. As new data fields are introduced, they are made available to other teams and external customers through well-defined interfaces that uphold clear boundaries around subsystems.  
  • Documentation is a code artifact: Useful documentation should live alongside source code and be treated in a similar manner. If code is updated, tested, and improved, so is the corresponding documentation for accurate reference.  

Think Next Generation

Relentless Delivery

Constructively dissatisfied, Data-driven action, Question everything

  • Data-driven decisions: Data allows us to make strategic, holistic decisions that align with our goals, objectives, and initiatives. This helps us foster a culture that encourages critical thinking and curiosity, while staying grounded in customers’ unmet needs. And we can ensure our decisions take the existing architecture and technical ecosystem into account before jumping in to write a line of code. 
  • Learn early and often: Running software in production used by real customers is the best way to learn. We deliver the smallest amount of functionality that provides the greatest amount of learning with every release. Small, more frequent deployments allow us to learn quickly. 
  • Innovation is grounded in customer needs: Our teams are closer to customers’ needs or concerns more than any organization-level architecture team could be. They are best positioned to identify opportunities for innovation, push us forward, and allow us to unlock the greatest value for current and new clients alike. 
  • Deliberate use of tech debt (the result of prioritizing speedy delivery over perfect code): To build software quickly, we leverage tech debt as a useful tool to help us learn early and often. We often make a deliberate decision to take on tech debt; to learn faster and as we generate that debt; we also plan for how we’ll remediate it and hold ourselves accountable for following through.  

Live The Reputation

Holistic, Inclusive Design 

Integrity, Highest quality standards

  • Security is top priorityKeeping our customer data secure is at the forefront of every decision we make. We strive to ensure multiple layers of security in everything we build, starting with the initial concept design and all the way through launch.   
  • Accessibility is at the forefront of design: Our product suite should be usable by all members of a customer’s organization and within Paylocity, regardless of status.  
  • Treat our customers’ data with care: Each piece of data in our product suite relates to a person or business entity that our customers entrust to us to meet their needs. Our customers expect, and can be assured, we use that data ethically.  

Be Unbeatable Together

Empowered Teams 

Autonomous teams, Bar raiser, Hire and develop the best talent, People first

  • Autonomy with alignment: Our cross-functional, agile teams are empowered to tackle customers’ needs with the full force and backing of the entire organization. This means teams leverage organization-wide communication to collaborate, share, and learn from each other. 
  • Decentralized inner sourcing: By following an inner-sourcing model, our teams can change code anywhere in our system that they need to while ownership and duties are clearly defined.   
  • Inclusive excellence: We hire individuals who add to our culture of inclusiveness, where talent can thrive to take us to the next level.

Thank you to my fellow Paylocity leaders and other team members for helping lay the foundation of these engineering principles.  

We’d love to have you join our team and continue bringing these principles to life! Explore open positions in Product and Technology or learn more about the benefits of a Paylocity career today.