Whitepaper: How the software industry can organize and build a knowledge library for their teams

Introduction

Stack Overflow for Teams is the leading knowledge base for technical teams. Companies of all sizes leverage our solution to streamline workflows by creating a central and secure source of company information. This whitepaper gives more insight into how we help our customers in the Software industry organize and build a knowledge library for their teams.

Why we built Stack Overflow for Teams

Stack Overflow was created over 10 years ago by developers who wanted an online forum to ask questions and find answers about coding from fellow developers and engineers. Over time, it has become the largest developer-specific community in the world. Nearly 55 million developers visit the public Stack Overflow community each month.

We were asked by several large organizations to create a private version of the community that only their developers could access. Companies wanted a platform that developers were comfortable with and used regularly to ensure that adoption and usage would be high. So Stack Overflow for Teams was born. In the past few years we’ve helped thousands of teams find and share mission-critical information, all with the mission of helping the developer write the script of the future. 

We see the same problem in companies across the world

When it comes to technical team challenges, it doesn’t matter how big of an organization or where they’re located, one thing unites them: Teams have too many tools and rely on tribal knowledge to get work done. 

It’s already common knowledge that developers need “flow state” to produce their best work. This uninterrupted time to focus on the task at hand becomes harder to achieve when the information they need to do their jobs is spread across multiple apps and tools - and sometimes locked away in a subject matter expert. Technical team leaders can’t risk pings, dings, and shoulder-taps throwing the development and release cycle off in this ultra-competitive market.

So how does Teams solve for this?

Questions, answers, and articles in one place.

Stack Overflow for Teams works because it mimics the natural way that people discover information - through questions and answers. When you need to solve a problem, you automatically approach it in the form of a question. Team members access the platform, ask a question and find an answer. We’re even releasing longer-form content capabilities so teams can share updates and other information that doesn’t fit into the box of question or answer. 

Empowering organic information-sharing.

Over time, information changes. The problem with wikis and static intranet solutions is that it falls to a handful of people to update. It’s impossible for just a few people to know everything, so by default, these solutions are lacking crucial information and aren’t as up-to-date as they need to be. Stack Overflow for Teams puts the power in the hands of team members. Questions can be asked by anyone and answered by anyone. When new information becomes available, team members can add to the content to create a richer, more accurate knowledge base.

Reducing workflow interruptions.

We see a common thread inside of technical teams around the topic of interruptions and distractions. Teams are more distributed than ever before and the way that we communicate with one another comes in the form of chat messages, email and phone calls. There is a lot of communication noise that developers have to deal with. A study done by the University of California and Humbolt University found that each interruption costs the team member up to 23 minutes on a task. Teams creates the space for team members to ask questions and share information when it works best for them. 

A study done by Forrester TEI Consulting also found that companies who leverage Stack Overflow for Teams see a $1.2M savings annually in time spent asking and answering questions within their technical teams. More focused time to produce meaningful results ultimately results in quicker time to market, faster onboarding and happier teams.

Built for Software Companies

We’re a software company ourselves, so we understand the need to move quickly on projects in order to win market share and build long-term revenue streams. Technical teams within software companies are often under tight deadlines and have high visibility from Executive teams and investors. When you add the stress of searching multiple locations--like Slack, Google Drive, Wiki, and email--on top of the already pressure-filled atmosphere, it’s a recipe for developer burnout. Technical teams need a familiar place to access critical knowledge to get back to work faster.

Case Study: Runtastic

As part of the Adidas group, Runtastic develops a continuously evolving portfolio of apps and online services to track fitness and health data. Their product is used by 142 million fitness enthusiasts and those wanting to become more active. The team committed to an agile development philosophy, but as it grew from 20 developers to an engineering team of 120, the leadership team recognized there was a challenge in maintaining that culture. Stack Overflow for Teams became a central tool to enable collaboration across offices and department silos. 

Runtastic saw the advantages of Teams filling in a gap between their Wiki and chat tools. Engineering still uses the wiki for things their system architect Roman Zavarnitsyn describes as “heavy documentation” with “lots of charts, lots of explanations, lots of mentions, lots of action points.” But as Stefan Damm, VP of Engineering,  agrees, the strong point of Teams has been to surface just the bite-sized information that people ask for. “We still write and update documentation in the wiki. But Teams works as an index.”

Not only does Teams improve collaboration between engineers, it also offers leadership insights into the technology questions that move the team. “As a VP of Engineering leading over 100 people, it has brought me closer to the work again.” Says Damm. “I saw what the people are concerned about in the day to day work. What questions do they have that need to be answered? It gave a better picture of where to focus certain initiatives, how to improve the onboarding.”

Read the entire case study here.

Summary

Teams of all shapes and sizes benefit from a streamlined and centralized source of information. Technical teams can see the most value from this system due to the demand for focused time to work on mission-critical projects that shape the future of the company. By protecting the time of your high-value employees, you’re not only protecting your business, but also creating a stable foundation of knowledge-sharing and growth within your team.

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