We have just released our next open source project called ‘help’ - it’s a simple to run rails application for making it easy to reach out for help within small and medium teams.
We have just released our next open source project called ‘help’ - it’s a simple to run rails app for making it easy to reach out for help within small and medium teams.
Since we are growing very fast we’ve noticed it’s incrementally harder to help each other. Lots of newcomers = lots of questions. The Qs are very different from each other in nature - from simple development related issues to formalities or asking for an access to particular tool. Few problems arose in the last couple of months:
somebody that needs help does not know to whom she/he should reach out
somebody that can help does not know who needs support
somebody that can help and is well known for helping will get increasingly more and more requests
The last one is very bad, because it leads the best, most caring and experienced employees to feel overwhelmed or even burnt out. That is one of the strangest things in human nature - if you are a good ‘helping hand’ kind of person, it’s common that you end up with more and more tasks to do in reward. Sad but true.
Luckily this is where the app comes in with it’s very simple flow:
the green path is for you to subscribe for different categories you can help with (like development questions or communication). Once you choose the categories you are good at, your ‘helper’ profile is being created
the red path is for you to select a category you need some help with - the screen shows only a few, but we've managed to figure out around 10 common skills that we felt are going to cover 90% of the issues:
once you select a topic, the help app randomly assigns somebody from the list of helpers who have previously subscribed to it via the green path:
That’s almost it! Now you simply write in your question and the random person gets notified via email that you need support. It might happen that the helper won't have enough time to help you out but that’s fine too - we can trade the support tickets in one of our HipChat rooms and it’s good to have somebody to start with :)
To wrap this up - help is very simple to run and it uses ticketing system with random assignee. If you feel that your team can benefit from this approach, we urge you to try it out (the app is available on GitHub). Subscribing to topics and becoming a helper is voluntary, yet we found that people feel good about saying that they are good at least in few subjects and are glad to help each other.
PS. The app is already working but it’s still missing some improvements and UI / UX suffers from severe bootstraping. Good news is, the app has been just used to improve itself!