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HomeStartupsA Progress Framework For Engineers & Engineering Managers By PhonePe

A Progress Framework For Engineers & Engineering Managers By PhonePe


As PhonePe strikes to its subsequent part of development, my problem was to design an engineering group that locations our bold aim squarely on the middle whereas giving engineers a roadmap for skilled development.

PhonePe is an ecosystem powering a wide range of services that assist customers and companies take part and thrive within the financial system — Karte Ja Badhte Ja!

I personally see PhonePe as a know-how platform enabling steady collaboration with all kinds of companions. We create progressive and clever merchandise, anchored on transaction velocity, simplicity and safety, giving an enriching expertise to clients.

However portray on such a broad canvas additionally signifies that for the foreseeable future completely different groups can be at completely different phases of product maturity with the engineers consistently juggling long-term functionality constructing with development hacks, whereas scaling the platform to handle hypergrowth. This includes fuzzy drawback fixing, coping with ambiguity, information pushed decisioning, intensive planning and a whole lot of coding.

Relying on the life stage of the product they’re engaged on, an engineer could also be required to train extra muscle on one talent or in a single space over the others. On the identical time, the ambition of the corporate calls for that we proceed to develop the staff by bringing in new expertise with various ranges of know-how and area experience. So I started to consider a framework that might be aligned to the holistic development of engineers by studying and talent accumulation over time, whereas nonetheless focussing on the organisation’s targets and wishes.

The preliminary thought course of was to easily outline a extra granular profession ladder for engineering alongside the strains of what we’ve right now. Based mostly on my previous expertise, a typical profession ladder contains a competency framework that pegs a mix of talent ranges in a job to a title. This tends to drive conduct that’s singularly focussed on attaining the native maxima of the people titular development.

Fashionable careers then again (particularly within the shopper web house) are far more fluid. They demand a good quantity of flexibility from people in selecting which talent units to develop and train at what cut-off date to maximise worth for the corporate.

This made me reimagine our definition of a profession ladder to a framework that units development expectations of an engineer based mostly on growing spheres of possession and accountability. For my part, this maps higher to actual profession development in a fast-paced group the place the calls for on a person get extra multi-dimensional because the constitution they personal grows greater and broader.

My tackle the profession ladder at PhonePe is extra a sliding scale round dimensions which can be necessary to talent constructing, and map nicely to the tradition and values of PhonePe. There isn’t a apparent step perform the place you’ll be able to level at anybody talent and say “Well done! You are now a Senior Engineer or a SDE3” and many others.

It’s to be seen as a information on find out how to function finest to create most affect as you tackle extra accountability within the group. And alongside the way in which accumulate abilities and learnings that make an individual a well-rounded engineering chief whereas additionally being rewarded for the worth and affect created. It’s not goal-oriented, however is extra a pursuit of excellence. And therefore the title, Engineering Journey at PhonePe.

The PhonePe Engineering Journey is outlined as a framework that maps the expansion of any particular person within the engineering group by their scope of possession, affect & affect fairly than tenure or hierarchy. It’s designed to serve the next objective:

  • Be a information to particular person contributors on traits and abilities they should develop to be more practical as their tasks broaden
  • Be a information for managers to develop the tasks of people of their staff as they present promise whereas guaranteeing that they’re rewarded pretty and constantly for his or her invaluable contributions
  • Maintain the engineering group dedicated to creating an atmosphere that makes studying on the job and software of the identical for affect the first aim of each particular person, with profession development being a pure consequence of this course of

As we refined our ideas on detailing the Engineering Journey, we converged on a set of core tenets that mirrored our values as an engineering group and our beliefs on what represents engineering development within the true sense. It is very important element these due to the affect it has on the function and accountability definitions we can have going ahead

Progress Based mostly On “Scope & Impact” And Guided By “Dimensions Of Growth”

The “Scope & Impact” of the PhonePe Engineering Journey describes the growing breadth and depth of accountability in a job and the worth derived by the staff/group from the identical. Progress in a job should be measured solely by the lens of accelerating Scope & Influence — as an engineer grows as knowledgeable, their Scope (and corresponding Influence) would additionally transfer from proudly owning and delivering (beneath supervision) small duties and options of their staff, to proudly owning options and companies end-to-end, to proudly owning massive platforms and merchandise end-to-end.

The “Dimensions of Growth” discuss with the technical abilities and behavioural traits particular to us as a company, and what makes an engineer profitable at PhonePe. It’s a perform of the type of group we’re (open large-scale platforms powering various merchandise, funds and monetary companies area and information pushed decisioning) and the tradition we need to inculcate in our engineers (excessive possession and fervour, capability to cope with ambiguity, development by steady studying and management by optimistic affect).

The “Dimensions of Growth” serve solely as a information and never a guidelines to arrange and aspire for an elevated span of accountability. For instance, as an engineer (whether or not a backend engineer or an app developer) aspires for broader tasks, they should enhance on their design & growth abilities, and their understanding of methods round them, amongst different issues.

On the identical time, additionally they have to put money into higher planning and prioritization to ship on tasks of accelerating complexity. Together with these, nonetheless, an engineer additionally must develop of their capability to mentor others, to have an effect on change through their sphere of affect (versus doing so backed by a hierarchical construction), and handle change and ambiguity for themselves and their groups to achieve success.

By serving as a information for steady enchancment, the “Dimensions of Growth” permit an engineer to self-manage their funding in several areas of growth based mostly on what is required by their staff whereas guaranteeing holistic development as an engineer in the long run.

Avoiding Cookie-Cutter Strategy To Progress

The scope of possession and the affect that an engineer has within the group will not be solely a perform of the place the engineer stands within the varied dimensions of development but additionally of the calls for of the enterprise and staff he/she is part of. Typically, an engineer could focus and over-index on sure dimensions that’s the want of the hour for the enterprise, on the expense of development alongside different dimensions.

So it shouldn’t be an expectation that at any given level all engineers holding comparable ranges of tasks within the firm can be on the identical stage of development throughout the assorted dimensions. Equally, the rise within the span of accountability and/or compensation shouldn’t at all times be contingent on premeditated demonstration of enchancment throughout all dimensions. Nonetheless, the group and people ought to be certain that over time by the structured rotation, on-the-job studying and mentorship, development throughout dimensions is achieved.

Under is an illustration of the above two guiding ideas — three people with the same span of possession and expectation of affect will map otherwise on the Scope & Influence and Dimensions scale. The concentric circles characterize development in scope and affect, and the 5 axes denote the size of development:

Parallel Tracks Of Progress For Particular person Contributors & Managers

We now have two distinct and parallel profession tracks in engineering at PhonePe — an Particular person Contributor (IC) observe and a Administration observe. The Engineering Journey should be certain that development on the IC observe is comparable in all features to development on the Administration observe, with no glass ceiling in the case of creating affect, demonstrating management abilities and compensation. Particular person contributors can turn out to be managers if they’re within the core tasks of individuals administration. However this modification can be a lateral transfer and never a promotion. This helps guarantee we don’t create an incentive to vary tracks for the flawed causes.

Practical Titles Over Hierarchical Ones

On condition that development within the firm is a direct proxy of your scope of possession and affect, titles are solely wanted to precisely replicate that practical scope with out the necessity for a hierarchy inside that. We reward and acknowledge folks stepping up in scope and/or affect by growing their compensation and their tasks, and never by conferring titles that depict seniority in any means.

This ensures that titles are now not the motivator for people. And entitlement to be part of a specific dialogue discussion board, an thrilling new initiative or a choice perform is on the advantage of 1’s practical function and efficiency fairly than title. This builds a tradition the place organizational hierarchies shouldn’t have a job to play in day-to-day interactions with folks, and the place discussions occur and are closed on the technical deserves of the arguments made and never the people behind them.

So What Does This All Imply For The Engineering Roles At PhonePe?

As talked about earlier, provided that our engineering ladder is extra a sliding scale alongside recognized dimensions, we’re transferring away from titling a job at each step of development to make sure that the main target continues to be on incomes extra tasks versus getting a title. Our titles are practical and designed to indicate the applicability of a job fairly than seniority.

Particular person Contributor Observe

Based mostly on this precept, within the software program growth perform in engineering, we’ve two roles within the IC observe — Software program Engineer and Software program Architect. The practical tasks of the Software program Engineer function are primarily mapped to a product staff or a set of adjoining PODs whose targets are usually tied to the L1 targets of the group. The practical tasks of the Software program Architect are extra horizontal and primarily mapped to the know-how group targets of scale, reliability, efficiency, information centre value optimization and many others.

The Software program Engineer turns into a deep product-level skilled over time, nonetheless, that doesn’t imply they aren’t concerned in broader initiatives exterior the staff.

By the identical token, a Software program Architect will not be myopically centered on organizational initiatives alone; they nonetheless belong to groups and contribute to staff initiatives commonly, however that’s not the overarching focus of their consideration. It’s this practical distinction that warrants a distinct title. However each roles proceed to have parallel development paths all the way in which, with out the necessity to change from one to a different for both studying or compensation causes.

Supervisor Observe

We now have adopted the same bifurcation with the administration observe with the team-and organizational-scopes as the premise for profession growth. Entry-level engineering managers, in addition to extra skilled engineering managers with staff(s)-scope, are mapped to the function of Engineering Supervisor. Because the constitution on the engineering administration facet expands to incorporate organizational tasks that aren’t staff particular together with co-ownership of P&L tasks, the function turns into that of Head of Engineering.

On this case, whereas the profession graph between Engineering Supervisor and Head of Engineering can have some overlap, the pure profession development for an Engineering Supervisor is into the function of Head of Engineering.


In each tracks, every of the roles above is mapped to compensation ranges within the HR system. That is to make sure that we’ve the flexibility to repeatedly benchmark salaries in opposition to the market in addition to have checkpoints inside the system for wage increments and hiring. Nonetheless, these ranges are usually not recognized to people as a result of it defeats the aim of flat roles inside a perform. Any use of those ranges exterior of compensation choices is dysfunctional.

Can This Be Generalized Throughout All Disciplines In Engineering?

PhonePe has all kinds of software program engineering disciplines, together with backend, cellular, UI, DevOps, information sciences, high quality and safety. We even have many enterprise and product models organized cross-functionally as PODs. Whereas the examples above primarily spotlight the core growth perform in engineering, I consider that the strategy and the ideas are relevant to engineers and managers throughout all disciplines and groups.

By guaranteeing we’ve constant requirements throughout the corporate, we are able to allow fluid inside mobility and additional assist particular person development. People ought to have the ability to broaden their skillset and views by engaged on a variety of merchandise and issues. That’s the finish aim.


Once I began occupied with how I needed to construct a development framework for engineering at PhonePe, I went about in search of how others have approached the identical drawback. And I used to be pleasantly shocked by how open a whole lot of organizations had been about their philosophy on this. On condition that lots of them have impressed my pondering on this, it’s only proper that we make our views open for suggestions whereas additionally giving credit score to those which have influenced it.




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