20 minute read

Stack Overflow for Teams procurement FAQ

We know you and your procurement partners may have a lot of questions about Stack Overflow for Teams. We've prepared this FAQ that should answer the majority of your questions.

Business Unit

What does Stack Overflow for Teams do?

Stack Overflow for Teams is a collaboration and knowledge sharing/management platform. It enables organizations to have a central source for consistent, real-time collaboration and knowledge sharing.  

How does it work?

The core of Stack Overflow for Teams is questions and answers. While other tools will let you ask a question on a static piece of content, we know that humans naturally think about solving problems in the form of a question. 

For example, without Teams, a new employee who wants to learn how to reset their active directory password can go on a 30 minute information hunting session which likely means pinging several coworkers (“I’m new so I don’t know who to go to) and eventually hitting a few various how-to docs in the wiki, Google Drive or the company FTP. And then when they  get there, there’s no guarantee that the information is up-to-date or even accurate. Instead, with Teams, the employee is able to go straight into the tool and type a question. If the question has been asked before, they’ll see it in the returned results.

Companies using Stack Overflow for Teams have found that question-asking time is reduced by an average of 3,825 hours in the first year - estimated at a $223,763 savings. And question-answering time is reduced by 13,388 hours - estimated saving of $1.1 million in the first year.   

How is Stack Overflow for Teams packaged and sold?

It’s a SaaS (software-as-a-service) product. There are three different tiers of Stack Overflow for Teams - Basic, Business, and Enterprise. Tier comparisons can be found here.

Per seat pricing for the different tiers are below. Contracts are based on the number of Committed Users, which is the minimum number of user seats clients will pay for over the term, regardless of actual usage. Clients pay up front each year for the # of committed users. Usage is then reviewed every 90 days and excess usage beyond commitment is billed on a pro-rated basis for the remainder of the current term.

Basic tier

$6 per user/month

No additional support packages available

Business tier

$12 per users/month paid via annual contract (we can’t invoice monthly) - volume pricing is available on a case-by-case basis

Support packages available:

  • Jumpstart - $5,500 for 90 days of onboarding & training support. Unlimited users during this time.
  • Premium support - $4 per user/month, requires a minimum of 250 users.

Enterprise tier

$18 per users/month paid via annual contract (we can’t invoice monthly) - volume pricing is available on a case-by-case basis

Premium support included in the per seat price

How well does Stack Overflow for Teams meet your business needs?

Stack Overflow for Teams is best suited for companies who are looking to build high quality products, build them in a high velocity, and to build them in a predictable way. These companies need to make collaboration and information sharing fast and easy.

What is the business justification for this product?

Based on The Total Economic Impact Of Stack Overflow For Teams

Quantified benefits: The following risk-adjusted present value (PV) quantified benefits are representative of the composite organization, based on the experiences reported by interviewed companies:

  • Question-asking time savings. 
    At the composite organization, employees in development-related roles asked about 1,500 questions each month, and as many as 85% of those were duplicates that required extra time to type up, send, and manage follow-ups. With Stack Overflow for Teams, employees only ask 225 new questions each month. Developers can search the Stack Overflow for Teams platform to find the right answers based on search relevancy and leverage colleague recommendations with votes and answer confirmation flags. Seeing who asked and answered the original discussion also helps foster collaboration and further discussion. The savings in the first year add up to 3,825 hours and more than $223,763.
  • Question-answering time savings. 
    The significant reduction in questions asked means experienced developers — often the ones most senior and working on business-critical modules — are interrupted less often with questions they would either prefer to deal with later or that they or a colleague have already answered at least once, if not many times. Since it can take longer to craft a complete answer, and some questions have multiple answers provided, savings add up to more than 13,388 hours and more than $1.1 million in the first year.

Unquantified benefits. The interviewed organizations have experienced additional improvements enabled by Stack Overflow for Teams, though these are not quantified for this study:

  • Avoided developer “flow” interruptions. 
    In addition to time spent actually answering questions, an interruption may impact a developer more significantly if they require extra time to remember what they were doing. In addition, instead of responding to an email or chat interruption, senior developers can plan and schedule Stack Overflow for Teams time to review and answer questions.
  • Improved recruiting. 
    With Stack Overflow’s ubiquity, potential developer new hires see the platform as one indication of a more mature development process using modern development tools. While not measured as of yet, organizations attribute some improvement in hiring, training, and retention to Stack Overflow for Teams.
  • Improved development quality and application time-to-market. 
    With fewer interruptions, developers can stay focused on work, conveniently find information or coding standards, and share best practices. All of these can contribute to fewer coding errors, faster QC and test phases, and faster application delivery.
  • Adoption beyond DevOps. 
    Organizations are planning for future Stack Overflow for Teams expansion as a platform to help other roles and groups. Departments such as finance and human resources have to adhere to very specific guidelines, and the platform can help them collaborate and share up-to-date information to meet these guidelines - for example, a finance colleague looking for the correct accounting standard or an employee with a benefits question for HR.

Vendor

What is the history of Stack Overflow for Teams and Stack Overflow?

Stack Overflow, the company, was founded in 2008. It built a Q&A forum for developers to ask and answer technical questions. The website, stackoverflow.com, receives 50+ million global visitors a month and is ranked as a Top 40 website in the world.  

Stack Overflow for Teams, launched in 2016, with the Enterprise tier. In 2018, the Basic tier launched and in 2019, the Business tier launched. In 2019, Stack Overflow for Teams released 3 major improvements/updates to the functionalities of the product and multiple smaller feature releases. In 2020, the roadmap is focused on bringing in more workflow integrations (like Slack, MS Teams, JIRA Cloud, Github Enterprise), more flexible content formatting, and improved search capabilities.

The Stack Overflow for Teams product currently has three product managers, ten developers, and six site reliability engineers working on the products.  

What is the corporate structure of Stack Overflow?

Stack Exchange (the parent company of Stack Overflow), is a private company, headquartered in New York City. It’s venture capital-backed, with the latest round, (Series D) done in 2015 for $40million. Series D was led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from Index Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures.  

What support is provided as part of the contract?

For the Business tier:

  • 2 hour service window during regular business hours
  • Onboarding support + optional support packages
  • Access to Help Center 
  • Access to Self serve How-to guides

For the Enterprise tier:

  • Dedicated Customer Success Team
  • Grow and optimize communities
  • Ensure healthy usage and adoption
  • Extensive pre-deployment training and guidance
  • Phone & Video support

What additional support and services are available?

For the Business tier:

Jumpstart Program - $5,500 one-time fee

1:1 onboarding, training, and unlimited users support for you and your team through a 90 day community building curriculum.

  • Onboarding and training call (1 hour)
  • Weekly calls (30 min each)
  • Phone/video support during program
  • Email support: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Eastern US, with one business day response
  • 24/7 web support
  • Self-service learning guides and knowledge base
  • Proactive monitoring of your knowledge base with recommended best practices
  • Support with the development of materials/assets to encourage company-wide adoption

For the Enterprise tier:

Support for custom modifications or integrations can be added as a separate professional services agreement.

What is the schedule of product updates and new releases?

For both Business and Enterprise tiers, the 2020 roadmap is focused on bringing in more workflow integrations (like Slack, MS Teams, JIRA Cloud, Github Enterprise), more flexible content formatting, and improvements to personalization and content discovery.

For the Business tier: Updates and releases are made as they are ready. Expect at least monthly updates.

For the Enterprise tier: Three (3) releases are made each year that incorporate updates and new releases.

How is customer feedback solicited and incorporated into Stack Overflow for Teams?

We use multiple methods to collect customer feedback.

Surveys:

  1. Monthly satisfaction. This is used to gauge trends in satisfaction and helps us identify directional improvements. We use this data to inform our roadmap. 
  2. The beginning of a project. This helps us vet early ideas and point us in the right direction. We use survey data, as well as other inputs, to help us identify requirements and design.
  3. The end of a project. Once we ship, we can see how people are feeling about the new feature and identify changes for future iterations.

Surveys are a great way to get a high volume of qualitative feedback, which we can use to understand macro trends as well as micro issues for things like usability and copy. We can also target surveys to specific audiences, so that we are gathering data from people who’d be affected by the outcome of a particular project.

User research:

Qualitative research helps us understand the why and how of user behavior, allowing us to get deeper insights than we might through other methods. Generally, these are semi-structured discussions that take place by video call or in writing – where we’ll talk in-depth with customers about a specific topic, feature, or design. We generally conduct these throughout the beginning and middle phases of projects. We use a few different sub-methods, depending on the project.

User interviews are the most common. We have conversations with people who may be affected by a given change. Since Stack Overflow for Teams is a community where groups of people interact with each other, our conversations are not limited to the decision maker, admin, or end user. For example, if we are updating the question asking form, not only do we talk to people asking questions, but also those answering and moderating questions.

Quantitative data:

While qualitative data helps us understand why, quantitative data helps us understand how many. We use data analysis and A/B tests to provide insight into how our decisions scale, as well as how changes we make contribute to site usage and overall performance goals. Sub-methods include:

  1. General data analysis. This is used to understand patterns in site usage across various user segments. 
  2. A/B tests. We test as much as we can, particularly areas that impact core interactions on the site.

Statistical analysis allows us to see how (or if) earlier research insights scale and how the changes we make impact top-line performance goals.

Secondary research:

When we consider changes to Stack Overflow for Teams, we want to understand the broader contexts of our customers, as well as any historical insights that led us to the current state of the product. This helps ensure that we’re not reinventing the wheel or ignoring hard-learned lessons from the past. Sub-methods include: 

  1. Comparative site analysis. We look at other sites to understand patterns and standards that users are learning offsite. This awareness helps us understand how to make a user’s entry into Stack Overflow for Teams as seamless as possible. 
  2. Archive research. We talk to various staff, particularly product managers and developers, to learn how and why a feature arrived at its current state. 

We can learn from broader offsite patterns as well as research from previous iterations on Stack Overflow for Teams.

Is there a customer advisory board, and if so, what are the details?

Yes. We have a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) focused on the “Attract and Retain Talent” buyer. These are customers that have purchased both Stack Overflow for Teams and our Talent products. 

We engage our CAB to discuss the critical issues and opportunities facing their industries. We engage our CAB to give us insights on how we can improve our offerings to better meet their needs and we deep dive on features and functionalities either on our roadmap or that we’re exploring for our roadmap. 

We have four structured events a year (two in-person, two virtual). We also have a dedicated Stack Overflow for Teams instance to share knowledge and encourage cross-company collaboration.

What is the process for enhancing the knowledge management software product and communicating changes?

New product developments vary wildly in purpose, scope, investment, and goals, but every new product development project at Stack Overflow goes through these steps: 

  • Strategy: Set goals & agree on project stages and milestones
  • Discovery: Iteratively discover requirements, create & validate the spec & schedule
  • Build: Implement, or finish implementing, the final product & test it
  • Delivery: Communicate & ship the product, post-launch follow up

Some projects will take 1 week to go through all 4 phases, and some will take 6 months. New product development projects can go through several iterations within a single stage, or iterate on multiple stages before reaching delivery. All projects cover these basic steps.

Changes are communicated to decision makers, admins, and end users in multiple formats. Email, in product notifications, video training sessions, and through customer support relationships.

What references can the vendor provide, and what do those references say about Stack Overflow for Teams?

Our customer case studies are located here.

Individual references are available by request only.

Legal

What are the terms and conditions for this product?

For Business tier: Online terms and conditions.

For Enterprise tier: terms are available after a MNDA is signed.

How is the software licensed?

For Business tier: Annual term

For Enterprise tier: Annual term or custom term if a longer contract is signed

What are the details of the data rights?

A DPA is an addendum to a contract that lays out very specific standards and requirements for processing the personally identifiable information of “data subjects” under the GDPR. These are required any time a “controller” (a client) is transferring personal information to a “processor” (Stack Overflow for Teams) to use that PII in order to provide services.

The standard DPA is here.

Generally our agreements incorporate these DPAs “by reference” to them.

Information Security

How is access to Stack Overflow for Teams secured? How is access to the data secured? Where do the software and data reside?

Basic and Business Tiers

Architecture

From the beginning, Stack Overflow for Teams data is kept isolated.

Data isolation: Stack Overflow for Teams data is stored in a separate set of databases from Stack Overflow public, and each individual customer’s data is logically separated into its own SQL schema and tables with unique logins for each Team.

Application isolation: Stack Overflow for Teams data can only be accessed by an isolated replica of the Stack Overflow application, which the main public application accesses via an API.

Network isolation: Stack Overflow for Teams data and applications exist on a separate network within our production datacenter, with strict firewall rules, and which is only accessible to members of our Site Reliability and Architecture teams.

These protections are in addition to our normal protections around our production datacenter, which include strict firewall rules, a secure VPN that only Stack Overflow employees have access to, and automated vulnerability scanning of all hosts.

Physical Security

All of our production infrastructure runs in colocation facilities which have industry-standard access controls, including:

  • Facility and cage access limited to data center and approved Stack Overflow staff.
  • 24/7 on-premises security guards.
  • Biometric identity verification.
  • Our offices are secured by key card access restricted to approved Stack Overflow staff and escorted guests.

Organizational Security

As an organization, we are committed to ensuring that your private Stack Overflow for Teams data is never accessed by unauthorized personnel or for unauthorized reasons. 

Access by technical personnel is limited only to members of the engineering team who need access for the purpose of maintaining the security and availability of the service. Members of those teams have access to the underlying systems which store and process your data (via secure VPN), and never view sensitive Stack Overflow for Teams data which may contain company proprietary information, such as questions, answers, and tags, without the approval of the customer.

We have completed SOC 2 Type I and Type II audits on our hosted Stack Overflow for Teams Enterprise version. More information on the repots can be completed upon request.

Encryption

Stack Overflow requires the use of HTTPS in order for clients to communicate with the site. All customer data is encrypted using recommended cipher suites and protocols when in transit over public networks and within our network between the private Stack Overflow for Teams network zone and the rest of our infrastructure. Customer data at rest is not uniformly encrypted, although backups are encrypted.

Availability and Disaster Recovery

All data and infrastructure is built to be fault-tolerant and redundant. We maintain two data centers, with the ability to rapidly failover between them in the event of a failure. We also maintain encrypted offsite backups and routinely test restoring from backups.

For availability updates, see stackstatus.com or @stackstatus on Twitter.

External Security Audits

Stack Overflow for Teams undergoes regular penetration testing performed by respected third-party security firms, and any findings that present a risk to our environment are remediated. Our last application penetration test was performed in April 2019.

Enterprise Tier

We SOC 2 Type I and Type II reports. We are currently in evidence collection for Type 2 and expect that report in August 2020.

All other details on Enterprise Tier IT are available after an NDA is signed.

  • Stack Overflow Information Security Policy
  • Managed Cloud Pen Test
  • SOC 2 Type I and Type II reports
  • SOC 2 Confirmation of Engagement Letter
  • Encryption Standards
  • Stack Overflow Secure Software and Systems Development Lifecycle Policy
  • Stack Overflow WAF Mitigation
  • Stackoverflow.com GDPR Subprocessor List
  • PIIA Form

How are cross-border data flow and security handled?

Stack Exchange, Inc. maintains a Privacy Shield certification with the U.S. Department of Commerce which ensures that adequate safeguards are in place when we transfer personal data from the E.U. (incl. Switzerland) to the United States. We also will accept and offer EU approved model clauses as a valid transfer mechanism upon request.

How is Personally Identifiable Information (PII) handled?

A DPA is an addendum to a contract that lays out very specific standards and requirements for processing the personally identifiable information of “data subjects” under the GDPR. These are required any time a “controller” (a client) is transferring personal information to a “processor” (Stack Overflow for Teams) to use that PII in order to provide services.

The standard DPA is here.

Generally our agreements incorporate these DPAs “by reference” to them.

Technical

What percentage of desired functionality comes in the off-the-shelf product, through purchased add-ons, and through custom modifications?

100% of desired functionality is available through the off-the-shelf product.

Custom modifications for look/feel, security (SSO), are included in the off-the-shelf product.

Can our IT department make custom modifications?

On the Business and Enterprise tiers, we offer a Read/Write API that can be used to create your own custom integrations.

Custom modifications aren’t supported at this time. We are open to discussing needs to see if they can be accommodated.     

Does the Stack Overflow for Teams offer assistance with implementation and making custom modifications?

Support for custom modifications can be included as a separate professional services agreement.

How does Stack Overflow for Teams scale?

Stack Overflow for Teams is designed to scale to an unlimited number of users and content. At a high level, scaling may involve adding additional Web servers, Redis Clusters, or Elasticsearch.

We are able to share more detailed architecture diagrams once an NDA is signed.

What are the performance details of Stack Overflow for Teams?

99.5% uptime. 

With which tools is Stack Overflow for Teams already integrated, and what are the details of all such integrations?

Slack

When you integrate Slack with Stack Overflow for Teams, you’ll be able to search for answers directly in your Slack channel. Simply type /stack search and see all of your Team’s questions and answers without leaving Slack. Stay up-to-date with instant, customized notifications pushed directly to your Slack channel. Whenever someone asks a question, posts an answer, notifies you or adds a new comment, you’ll be notified on Slack within seconds. Stack Overflow for Teams fits right into your existing Slack workflow. With this integration, you’ll be able to start a question directly from Slack – just select Ask on Teams from the integration dropdown. We’ll automatically take you to the Ask a Question page in your Team so you can finish posting your question.

Microsoft Teams

Get the answers to your questions without leaving Microsoft Teams. Interact with the Microsoft Teams bot to quickly access information from Stack Overflow for Teams. Stay up-to-date on the last answers and information. With automated notifications based on tags, you will never miss the latest on topics you care the most about. Drive adoption of Stack Overflow for Teams and break previous knowledge sharing habits with our integration. The questions and answers that used to quickly get lost in chat can now easily be integrated into a searchable database with lasting value.

Jira Software Cloud

Seamlessly view related questions and answers to your task at hand in Jira while keeping knowledge stored in a centralized spot on Stack Overflow for Teams. Get more details to help solve your ticket faster using a direct link to the similar questions and answers within Teams. View a complete list of search results that match your Jira ticket within your Teams instance. Instantly view contextual information about a ticket referenced in a question or answer on Teams including the ticket type, status, and date it was created. 

Github Enterprise

Our integration with GitHub enables developers to find and share context to the code. Individuals can link to snippets of code from GitHub directly within Stack Overflow for Teams to ask questions and share information.

Okta

SAML single sign-on is available with our Business and Enterprise tiers of Stack Overflow for Teams. 

What mechanisms are available for integration with additional tools?

We offer a Read/Write API that can be used to create your own custom integrations.

Does Stack Overflow for Teams run in the cloud, on our premises behind the firewall, either one, or a hybrid combination of both?

Business tier: hosted by Stack Overflow in our co-located datacenters

Enterprise tier: There are three hosting options. 

  1. Stack Overflow hosts on Microsoft Azure
  2. Customer self-hosted in the cloud
  3. Customer hosted on-premises

We hope this document has shown:

Stack Overflow for Teams is a close match to your business needs.
Stack Overflow for Teams is clearly superior to the alternatives.
There is a strong business justification for purchasing Stack Overflow for Teams.
Stack Overflow for Teams is sound, and offers all required services and support.
The references for Stack Overflow and Stack Overflow for Teams are strong.
The costs and terms and conditions are reasonable.
Legal and information security concerns have been addressed appropriately.
Stack Overflow for Teams meets all technical requirements and expectations.
Stack Overflow for Teams integrates with current and planned platforms and tools.
Stack Overflow for Teams is easy to use and offers a great user experience.

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