On Stack Overflow, an online community where developers and technologists share technical knowledge and ask questions, one of the most viewed questions was posted to the platform nearly 13 years ago. Today, that question has been answered 31 different ways and has been viewed 3.2 million times by developers from around the globe.
“Think about the time and effort that would be lost if 3.2 million developers and technologists had to spend the time figuring this out themselves,” says Joy Liuzzo, the company’s senior director of product marketing. With Stack Overflow storing such a large body of knowledge, software engineers worldwide can increase their productivity by looking there instead of having to start from scratch every time they face a knowledge gap. “Companies who use Stack Overflow for Teams see the same benefits,” Liuzzo adds.
Stack Overflow for Teams is a lot like Stack Overflow’s public platform but geared toward companies. With Stack Overflow for Teams, users can store and build on each other’s knowledge, saving time, collaborating efficiently, and bringing new team members into the fold with ease. Here are seven ways in which Stack Overflow for Teams is an essential tool in accelerating every company’s ability to innovate.
1. It makes onboarding quick and painless.
Getting new team members up to speed is a lot easier if everything they’ll need to know has already been written down in a single, accessible location. “The ramp-up time for your new employees is going to go down,” says Vasudha Swaminathan, director of product for Teams, at Stack Overflow.
A lot of new hires have recently joined the sales team at Stack Overflow, she adds. Instead of missing out on information included in launch emails from before they started, (e.g., links to collaterals, FAQs), or any subsequent discussions between team members, they can find it all in the company’s Stack Overflow for Teams instance, reducing the time required to train them on sales assets.
2. It decreases wait times and interruptions.
Starting new hires off with ample information also frees up veteran employees, who might otherwise find themselves spending hours answering new colleagues’ questions. “If you keep pulling your engineers away constantly…to onboard new folks, you are not going to give them time to do what you really want them to do,” Swaminathan says. “You’re impacting productivity.”
For engineers—and any professional—an uninterrupted flow makes for greater work output and better ability to meet deadlines.
3. It lets employees collaborate across time zones—and time.
At expense-management software company Expensify, Success Coach Lauren Reid says Stack Overflow for Teams allows her colleagues in different time zones to work together on projects…even if they’re not working simultaneously—what Swaminathan calls “asynchronous knowledge sharing and collaboration.” They record their progress in Stack Overflow as they go, so a team member in San Francisco can start where their colleague in London left off at the end of the day.
This applies also to projects started by those who’ve left the company. Anything previously recorded remains in the platform, so employees can virtually work with people who held their jobs before them—literally collaborating across time.
4. It allows knowledge to flow between teams.
Since information stored in Stack Overflow for Teams is transparent, someone on the marketing team can see what people on the product team are building in real time, making it faster and easier for them to figure out how to market a new product. Conversely, product team members can learn to anticipate consumer needs by viewing feedback the sales team has been writing down.
5. It encourages flexibility within the company.
With information from every team readily available in Stack Overflow, employees can seamlessly switch from one department or role to another. At Expensify, Reid says, there is no “fixed management structure.” Instead, employees are free to move around and try out job descriptions that differ from what they were initially hired for.
“You genuinely can do anything that you wish if that information is written down,” Reid notes. This lets workers bring unique approaches and perspectives to tasks that may have otherwise been considered off limits to them.
6. It prevents repeated roadblocks.
When employees write down what they learn as they go, they don’t need to worry about the same problems impeding them time and again. What’s more, other teammates may have since provided more up-to-date answers to those past queries. “You may find that someone has either edited your post to make it relevant to today or may have added to your answer,” Swaminathan says.
7. It makes innovation natural.
Stack Overflow for Teams doesn’t just keep employees from having to relearn tasks they’ve taught themselves in the past. It also prevents them from redoing work a colleague already completed, assuming that colleague recorded their process. “If you’re using what others have already learned or created,” Liuzzo says, “[you’re] able to see farther because you’re standing on the shoulders of giants.”