We’re changing the way businesses deliver software.
Welcome to Referential Labs, where software excellence meets completion.
Our Software Delivery Subscription service pairs your hard work and dedication on software product design and UX with the unmatched technical skills and acumen of our veteran software engineers. Together, we bring your software product across the finish line, ensuring it reaches production with industry-leading security, unwavering reliability, and top-notch quality.
We get it - managing deployments, pipelines, infrastructure, data migrations, and supply chain risks is no picnic. But offloading that headache to a team of software veterans could be a game-changer for your business.
You focus on building, we'll focus on shipping. Lean on our expertise to turbocharge your product velocity. Our processes are nimble and our team has seen a lot.
- Lightning fast iterations.
- We are highly experienced engineers and work in an asynchronous fashion so we can deliver results iteratively in a fraction of the time it would take to hire and onboard a full-time employee. Our focused service means we can stay on target to help you achieve your business or product goals and improve your development team's productivity.
- Fixed monthly costs.
- We work on a fixed monthly cost basis so you can budget and plan your software development costs without worrying about unexpected expenses. We are not a staffing agency so we don't charge you for the time it takes to find and onboard a new employee. We are not a consultancy so we don't charge you for the time it takes to write a proposal or statement of work. We are a service that delivers results.
- Exceptional quality.
- Our team has decades of experience building, automating, managing and operating software services and systems at scale for companies like Salesforce, Morgan Stanley and the US Army Research Institute. As a result we have a deep understanding of the challenges and pitfalls of building and operating software systems and we can help you avoid relevant concerns upfront.
- No commitment.
- We don't require a long term commitment. We work on a month to month basis and you can cancel at any time. We are confident that you will be happy with our service and we don't need to lock you in to a long term contract.
- Maximize your ROI.
- Since we adopt an asynchronous decoupled planning approach, we are able to maximize your ROI by focusing on the most important requests first. We don't waste time on unnecessary meetings and we don't waste time on unnecessary requests. You are in full control of prioritizing your backlog.
- Scale up, down or pause.
- You are able to scale up or down your engagement as your business needs change. You can also pause your engagement if you need to take a break. We are flexible and here to help you succeed.
How It Works
An example timeline of onboarding for a customer might look like this:
Chelsea H (Customer) submitted an onboarding form.
Susan P (Referential Labs) replied to onboarding context with questions.
Chelsea H (Customer) replied to Susan's questions.
Susan P (Referential Labs) grants Chelsea H access to build backlog.
Susan P (Referential Labs) sent Chelsea H welcome materials with payment link.
Chelsea H (Customer) creates requests in the backlog.
Chelsea H (Customer) made subscription payment via welcome material payment link.
Susan P (Referential Labs) starts working on highest priority item in Chelsea's backlog.
Referential Labs adopts a set of technical principles that guide the development of the software we deliver for you. These principles are the foundation that help us achieve our mission and listed below:
- We use GitOps to manage the entire lifecycle of your application. This includes the deployment, monitoring, and management of your application. GitOps is a way to do Continuous Delivery, it works by using Git as a single source of truth for declarative infrastructure and applications. With Git at the center of your delivery pipelines, developers can make pull requests to accelerate and simplify application deployments and operations tasks to Kubernetes.
- We use DevSecOps to ensure that security is built into the software we deliver for you. DevSecOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) with security (Sec). It aims to shorten the development lifecycle and provide continuous delivery with high software quality. DevSecOps is complementary with our Kanban and DevOps practices.
- We use ChatOps to ensure that your team is always in the loop. ChatOps is a collaboration model that connects people, tools, process, and automation into a transparent workflow. This flow connects the work needed, the work happening, and the work done in a persistent location staffed by the people, bots, and related tools. By making work visible directly in the place where people are already collaborating, you can coordinate your work, refine processes, and increase transparency.
- We use CI/CD to ensure that your software is always ready to be deployed. CI/CD is a method to frequently deliver apps to customers by introducing automation into the stages of app development. The main concepts attributed to CI/CD are continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment. CI/CD is a solution to the problem of integrating new code can cause for development and operations teams (aka "integration hell").
Referential Labs is a small collective of high-performing software and system engineers led by two technical leaders with 40 years of professional experience (combined) provisioning, operating and managing server infrastructures at scale both in public cloud, hybrid private-public cloud and in multi-datacenter environments using Infrastructure-as-Code (IaC).
Distinguished Software Engineer
US-based, Central time zone (UTC-6h or UTC-5h)
Susan has 25 years of professional software development experience including 14 years provisioning, deploying and managing public cloud (e.g. AWS and GCP) infrastructures for web applications and SaaS API platforms. Susan has previously worked at Salesforce.com, Morgan Stanley, and multiple early stage startups pre-acquisition.
Susan has interleaved hands-on team and technical leadership positions since 2003 (20 years) in various organizations. At this point in her career she prefers to build remote, small, mixed skilled, high-performing teams with high autonomy using lightweight processes that optimize for clarity in written communication for hand-off.
Sr. Systems Engineer
US-based, Pacific time zone (UTC-8h or UTC-7h)
PJ has 15 years of professional experience developing software and managing large fleets of servers in the datacenter, hybrid and public clouds for government, academic institutions, media publishers and military research organizations.
PJ and Susan have previously worked together on a number of projects and initiatives at a prior employer plus multiple consulting engagements in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and media publishing space. So you are getting a well-oiled team.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Why should I consider outsourcing operations engineering work instead of hiring someone full-time?
I'm glad you asked! Hiring a full-time senior operations engineer based in the US now costs over $160,000 per year plus benefits on top, and availability can be limited. With an outsourced model, you pay only for the time you need, avoiding idle capacity. This flexible arrangement allows you to scale engineering support up and down as your business needs change.
Is there a limit to how many requests I can make?
No, but we only work on the highest priority request at a time. The Growth Stage plan includes up to one work-in-progress request at a time. You will have a backlog you can relatively prioritize which we work on in order (unless blocked for some reason, which we will document and act to unblock).
What is the turnaround time for requests?
I hate to say it, but it depends. A relatively simple request that is described well with no dependencies (on other people or teams or system access) will often have pull requests available for your internal staff to review within a couple of hours of us starting during Monday - Friday work hours. More complex requests may be split up into smaller tasks to eliminate/mitigate dependencies and show progress faster. The goal is to get feedback from you or your team as fast as possible to ensure we are on the right track for larger requests. Our engineers will review your top six requests weekly to ask for clarity or request necessary access ahead of time.
How do I make new requests?
Each customer will have access to a Kanban Board where you will be able to create issues to describe the work requested. We have templates for common types of requests which you can use to add to your Backlog. We request that you keep your Backlog relatively prioritized periodically (weekly is a good cadence) and our engineers will review the top 6 issues on a weekly cadence and ask for clarity in the request issue's comments for you to provide needed information or access for our work. If you can write the request down, we can provide the software delivery work product.
What if I only need occasional software delivery work?
You can pause your engagement when you don't need active support and resume it when you have additional operations needs. There's no need to pay for unused services.
Are there any refunds if I am unsatisfied with the service?
Due to the custom nature of the work, we do not issue refunds. However, we will work tirelessly to ensure the results for your requests meet your needs. Your satisfaction is our top priority.
Hiring a new CTO can take time and it isn't a decision you want to rush. We can help you strategize and plan your product roadmap, and then execute on it. We can also help you hire, grow or manage a team of developers to build your SaaS product until you find your permanent CTO.
- Product roadmap planning
- Technical architecture planning
- Team hiring, growth and management
- Product development
This plan is ideal for growth stage startups that need to get their backend and infrastructure in order by experienced engineers who have designed, built and evolved systems at growing scales before.
- One work-in-progress request at a time
- Asynchronous work planning based on your priorities
- Daily or weekly updates on progress and blockers (depending on feedback cycle)
- Periodic cost efficiency audits of your infrastructure (creating backlog items for you to relatively prioritize)