Engineering Spotlight: PrismHR
PrismHR is a Hopkinton-based software company that has always been innovating in the human resources sector. The company was founded a little over 30 years ago, and their software is used by more than 88,000 organizations and 2.2 million worksite employees.
We connected with Lonnie Colman, EVP, Product Delivery & CIO at PrismHR, to get an inside look at the company's technology, various projects, the team's culture, and more.
Interested in joining PrismHR's engineering team? Check out the company's job openings on the menu to the right.
Quick Hit Details
Year Founded: 1985
Number of employees: 201-500 employees
Number of engineers: 100
Industry: HR tech
Can you share a summary on what PrismHR does?
PrismHR develops a software platform for HR outsourcers that enables them to deliver HR services, benefits, and payroll to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the United States. More than 88,000 organizations and 2.2 million worksite employees use our software, and over $57 billion in payroll is processed every year with it. We work with local customers like GenesisHR Solutions and Resource Management Inc. (RMI), as well as national companies such as Paychex, via its acquisition of Oasis, which has been a client for nearly two decades.
What are some of the different technologies that the engineering team gets to work with and at what scale?
It’s an exciting time at PrismHR. We recently kicked off an initiative to transform the technology stack behind our flagship product and to quickly bring it forward with the most cutting edge technology tools available today. The team behind that project is growing quickly and we're working diligently on re-architecting our systems to be cloud-native and to utilize technologies like React, GraphQL, Serverless, PostgreSQL, and ElasticSearch. On the infrastructure side of things, we are rapidly adopting many different AWS services, including API Gateway, Lambda, and Cognito as well as continuing to use our expertise in Docker and Puppet as part of our DevOps practices.
In all, our engineering organization is aligned across twenty different Agile project teams. In addition to the technology modernization initiative, our product is used by HR service providers across the US, so we have a very active customer base who need things customized to their specific locale. So supporting those customers and making sure they remain competitive with leading-edge HR technology is a very important part of the team’s work.
Does your engineering team have a chance to work on projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities? For example - skunk work projects, open source projects?
Our technology modernization project is really spawning a lot of discussion and work here about what types of technologies we want to use in different parts of the stack. For example, our architecture team is working on several proofs of concepts (POCs) that will result in us picking the right technology tools for our solution.
There’s a lot of creativity in our group, mostly centered around how we can produce the best product on the market with bells and whistles that make our customers’ lives easier. For example, we just released some really cool reporting tools that might not sound huge to the average reader but will make a huge difference in the day-to-day lives of our customers, and they’re very excited about them.
What is the culture like at PrismHR for the engineering team?
I think we’ve got a great group of people who really take their jobs seriously but who also like to have fun while they’re here. We’re a healthy, growing company so there’s a lot of work to do but also a lot of opportunities. We prioritize mentorship and development and practice Agile within our delivery teams so we have a strong sense of ownership, collaboration, and accountability. Our Product Delivery Team (which includes Engineering, Ops, QA -- all of the technology functions) has been growing 30% year-over-year for the past several years.
Culture-wise, we like to have fun both inside and outside the office. We recently had an extremely competitive company-wide cornhole tournament that ended in a pretty contentious showdown between one of our Hopkinton teams called Bags of Fury and a team from our Sarasota office called Nacho Average Squad. I’m proud to say Bags of Fury, with senior product manager Kent Seith and our Chief Innovation Officer, Adam Van Beek, took the title this year.
And then there are our canine team members, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the dogs. We have a dog-friendly office here and our engineering team includes everyone from Violet the bullmastiff to Max, the 14-week old corgi. Almost every desk has a stash of treats for them.
What can a potential employee expect during the interview process?
Interviewees get a lot of exposure to folks they’ll interact with cross-functionally, in addition to team members who are embedded within the project team. We do deep dives into both technical ability and expertise in specific technologies. For some roles, we might test with coding questions.
Perhaps most importantly, we try the best we possibly can to make sure that the candidate is the right cultural fit. We take pride in our work environment and in how well our teams across the company work together so fit is really paramount. We spend a lot of time at work and it’s important to have a good environment.
One thing we don’t do is interview the dogs but they seem to get along with everyone.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What’s on tap?
In our kitchen, there’s Joyride Original Cold Brew and Kombucha tea. There’s also a variety of other beverages here, including the occasional brew from Start Line Brewery right down the street. Craft beer is a big topic of discussion and debate company-wide.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
iPhone or Android?
iPhone for me, but I’d say we’re about 50/50 here.
Coffee - hot or iced?
Hot, but I’m in the minority. Lots of people like the cold brew on tap and we’ve got Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts right across the street.
Favorite employee perk?
Dogs in the office - what’s not to like?
What music is playing in your office?
Derek Grimes, Senior Infrastructure Engineer, Team Lead
Derek started at PrismHR a little over two years ago and is a team lead on the infrastructure operations team. He focuses on both release operations and assisting on-premise customers with the setup of our software suite. As a team lead, Derek mentors both onsite and remote employees and enjoys getting the team collaborating -- whether it’s for morning coffee or for large scale projects that bring the teams’ diverse skill sets together. Before working at PrismHR, Derek worked for a large school district in addition to several town, police, and fire departments in central Massachusetts building up and consolidating their infrastructure to meet their growing needs. Derek earned his MBA from Worcester State University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a focus in leadership, which is one of his passions. When Derek gets off the grid, he enjoys spending time with his Corgi puppy named Max, traveling, kayaking, and trying new foods.
Vijay Gopalakrishnan, Platform Architect
Vijay joined PrismHR in 2016 as a platform architect and has been focusing on efforts to consolidate and modernize PrismHR’s product platform. He often does code reviews, puts best practices into action, and works with developers to improve their code. He helps the team create a vision for the product and works closely with the development teams to make that vision a reality. He is focused on delivering tangible results and acts as the driving force for the project from a technical perspective. He has an engineering degree in computer science and is the proud dad of a budding swimmer and a young percussion artist.
Images courtesy of PrismHR