Empowering software developers to build the future with Stack Overflow for Teams
When Xerox set out to build its Global Xerox Developer Program, one of the key goals was to forge disruptive, automated support pathways between two groups. The first is a group of Xerox engineers that design the application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs). These power the industry leading Xerox® ConnectKey® Technology platform of smart Workplace Assistants. The second is a group of third-party developers, independent coders, who are building out the new Xerox ecosystem of integrated third-party applications.
Giving third-party developers the knowledge required to integrate with Xerox inspired a project called “New Tools.” Xerox wanted to break through silos and disrupt the traditional process of third-party development where collaboration and knowledge-sharing were a challenge.
Reducing repetitive requests
“We had a legacy forum system that handled customer issues with bugs and error codes. We repeatedly received the same feedback and questions, which left us with less time to actually code,” explains David Whiting, software engineer, Xerox. “We needed to find an alternative solution so we could focus on helping customers design solutions to get the most out of our products.”
To make developers feel comfortable transferring knowledge and acclimating to a new tool, Xerox adopted leading solutions in the software development industry. This led them to Stack Overflow for Teams.
We had a legacy forum system that handled customer issues with bugs and error codes. We repeatedly received the same feedback and questions, which left us with less time to actually code...—
David Whiting – Software Engineer, Xerox
In July 2020, Xerox began using Stack Overflow for Teams. Their approach was unique. Most clients use the tool to help internal development teams collaborate and build a knowledge base. For Xerox, the tool served as connective tissue between the Xerox SDK/API Engineers and its third-party developers. This allowed coders to utilize search and tags to understand why they were getting certain error codes and how to address them.
How it works
The Xerox Global Developer Program portal leverages a Stack Overflow for Teams instance for self-service Q&A. The goal is to allow third-party developers to help themselves and to support one another by accessing key knowledge on demand. The Xerox Stack Overflow for Teams instance is connected through a Slack integration in the Xerox Developer Portal. Content from the collaboration in Slack channels is propagated to Xerox's Stack Overflow for Teams instance as often as possible to enhance the Q&A algorithm capabilities. A custom bot also greets each newly onboarded developer and gets them up to speed on their “New Tools” in order to minimize downtime in accessing key content.
Since implementing Stack Overflow for Teams, Xerox has added more than 165 questions and 162 answers to its database. The knowledge there educates third-party developers, saving hours of time for them and their teams.
“The onboarding and training process for Stack Overflow for Teams is relatively simple,” says Whiting. “Like most developers, I have Stack Overflow open most days while I’m working, so I’m very familiar with its functions and formats. That made it easy to pick up Teams and start using it right away.”
Like most developers, I have Stack Overflow open most days while I’m working, so I’m very familiar with its functions and formats. That made it easy to pick up Stack Overflow for Teams and start using it right away.—
David Whiting, software engineer, Xerox
The launch of “New Tools” was driven by Xerox management with the goal of making the company easier to work with and more agile as a partner.
“We viewed this opportunity with a startup mentality and saw it as a chance to leverage our ‘One Boat, One Team’ approach here at Xerox,” said Terry Antinora, vice president and general manager, Workplace Solutions Offerings, Xerox. “Our third-party developer partners are a key part of the Xerox team and they expect us to deliver the collaboration tools necessary for optimum results.”
Xerox has seen several hundred new third-party software developers come to xerox.com/developers since the Xerox Developer Program launched “New Tools.” The program, including Slack and Stack Overflow for Teams, is showing solid results.
“Xerox now offers this same capability to collaborate with other ConnectKey App developers in our instance of Slack, and quickly find answers on their own in our instance of Stack Overflow for Teams based on the powerful integration with Slack,” said Chris Mazur, global developer program manager, Global Offerings Solutions, Xerox. “With this approach, we recently solved an issue for a major US defense contractor in just 24 hours. That kind of speed is how we are winning and what differentiates Xerox as a software development partner.”
Access to Xerox “New Tools” for all eligible Xerox third party developers can be found here.