Thursday, October 24, 2013

Supporters to the teams!

Yesterday I wrote about customer support and how it is separated from the rest of the organization in many cases. (Read Blog Post).

At Jimdo, one of my clients, we discussed this topic quite often, and Jimdo (once again) is doing things differently when it comes to support work. Here are some details which might be worth sharing.

Quite some time ago, there was a whole lot of support tickets that were directly related to the work of the payment team (or „painment team“ how they used to call it at that time). Everyone who has ever tried to provide credit card payment for his services knows that everything related to payment is a big pain in the a...
So at this point it felt natural to have a support person directly in the team. This was a huge lever! The developers could understand better what problems the customers were facing, and the supporter got a better impression of what was going on in the payment team and shared this knowledge with the other supporters. They were so satisfied that they never thought about releasing the supporter from the team again. The opposite was true - they conducted an experiment: What would happen if we pair-program with the supporter? Sounds silly? Again, it was a big success! They gained an even better understanding of the „other world“ (development and support). And something else happened: Not only were they pair-programming, but also pair-supporting. So the developers were „forced“ to deal with real support tickets and use the same tools the supporters use day by day. Here again the very simple trick paid off: Bring together the people who are facing a problem with those who can solve the problem! It turned out that sometimes a developer could simplify support work with rather little effort (e.g. writing a script to automate things), while the support person did not even know that this was possible! So it was no question that the experiment was successful, and know paring with the supporter has become a kind of standard in this team.
The payment team might be the perfect fit for pulling a support person in. But why shouldn’t the same principle work for other teams as well? So kind of the next logical step was to do this for all other development teams as well.

P.S. When it comes to support, there is another interesting thing going on at Jimdo, which is called Support Alarm Party. But that is worth a future blog post...

P.P.S. Jimdo is one of the the most fascinating company I have ever seen. Fridtjof (one of the founders) and I will present the Jimdo Story at Lean Kanban Central Europe 2013 in Hamburg, Nov 4-5. Also we have written a small online booklet called „Management, Alignment and Leadership at Jimdo“. You can find the German version here. And this is the English version

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