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How Our Software Team Uses Communifire ... And How You Can Use it Too

social collaboration software

At Axero we practice dogfooding ... yep, we eat our own dog food. And lots of it -- every single day.

We use Communifire religiously ... we love Communifire, we know it works, and we believe in it 100%. It's what we use to run our entire business ... and it helps us deliver the same awesome product to our customers and partners. This keeps us on our toes and at the top of our game because we're excited to create new things that help us all work better together ... which, in turn, helps our customers work better with their people. And that puts a big smile on our face ... and hopefully yours.

Because of Communifire:

  • We've pretty much eliminated our email inboxes (now email is only really used for reading notifications)
  • We've eliminated just about all support phone calls (our customers actually prefer getting support through our community)
  • Face to face meetings are very infrequent and almost non-existant anymore (when they do happen, they're short, quick, and to the point because everyone already knows what's up)
  • All of our company documents are accessible to everyone (yes, we even use Communifire as our intranet)
  • Everyone on our team is connected

With this post, we thought that we'd give you some insight into how our software team uses Communifire to run our business and product development. I'm sure this will give you some ideas on how you can use it in your business too.

So ... lets get started ...

Our homebase, the Communfire Support Community

Our main instance of Communifire serves a bunch of different purposes.

  1. It's our collaboration space where all of our employees work together - it's where we login to first thing in the morning
  2. It almost completely eliminates the need for email when communicating with our customers and employees
  3. It's our public facing support community, where we have public discussion forums
  4. It's our public knowledge base for customers to find how-to articles and user guides
  5. We have individual spaces setup for each customer. Here they can privately and securly interact directly with our support and development team.

Our development team workspace

We use 1 private space for our entire development team.

Yep, that's it.

This space gives us a secure workspace, separate from the rest of the company, so we can easily share information, communicate, and collaborate. To do this, we've set up a single, private space that requires us to invite only the people we want to have access.

Within this space, the Activity Stream is the heart of our development team communication. Whenever something is posted, a file is shared, a question is asked, or a case is created, everyone is updated ... in real time ... so everyone knows at all times what is going on and what each other is working on. 

There's a bunch of awesome applications and functionality that comes standard with Communifire ... Tasks, Blogs, Files, Wiki, Events, Calendars, Photos, Videos, Ideas and Cases. It keeps things simple and extremely organized -- everyone knows where everything is at, and everything is usually just 1 click away.

If anyone needs to get a question answered, they'll simply post the question into the status area. It's then pushed out to the activity stream where everyone can see it and anyone can comment or respond to it.

We use blogs to communicate and collaborate on ideas, feature enhancements, and share thoughts with the rest of the team

If one thinks of blogs as being essentially on-line journals, it may not be evident how they could be used in collaborative ways.

We use the blogs feature for just about anything and everything -- from explaining how future functionality will work, innovating and collecting feedback about new ideas, and posting announcements, timelines, and deadlines.

A nifty feature that we added (and use everyday) is support for the MetaWeblog API ... this allows us to use 3rd party authoring software like ScreenSteps (which I used to create this blog post), Microsoft Word, MarsEdit, etc. to create detailed instructional documents offline and then push them into blog posts for the rest of the team to discuss. Once a blog is posted, it's also pushed into the activity stream where everyone can see it. From there, we use the comments feature to discuss the post, add additional thoughts, etc.

We use Cases to manage and fix bugs ... and to track new feature developments

Again, this is something that we use everyday. It keeps all and any bugs extremely organized -- so we can fix them immediately. Everything is trackable, we can set statuses, we can filter on just about any field we choose, and we can see who is fixing which bugs and ones that need to be assigned to developers. Cases is not only for bugs though, you can use it to track just about anything ... bugs, issues, tasks, work orders, support requests, phone calls, etc.

We use the wiki for keeping notes, code snippits, and technical documentation

Instead of using Word documents, we use the wiki to create our documents. This allows anyone to collaborate on a document and update it at any time. With our wiki, revision and change management becomes an integral part of how we work -- all revisions are stored, you can see the history of changes with a single click, you can compare any two revisions, and you can always revert back to a prior version. This kind of flexibility gives our team the freedom to be more creative ... they can take more risks because the revision history is there as a safety net. We're also very big on co-authoring, rather than simply passing redlines back and forth.

We use the File Manager for ... you guessed it! Managing all of our files

We store and manage all development related files here. From coding standards, eBooks about programming, and best practices ... to install scripts, test projects, and documentation.

Having all of our files in this one centralized location, rather than in folders on our desktops, gives everyone access to what they need, when they want it ... and it saves a whole lot of back and forth between team members looking for documents.

From here, our developers can download the files ... or they can choose to preview them before downloading.

Here's a shot of what it looks like after you click through to an individual file.  Notice how you can preview the file before downloading it ... you can also track the history of the file.

The task manager keeps our to-do lists in sync

This is how we get our work done. We use the task manager to keep track of all high level items that we need to complete. Our team meets weekly to go over what has been completed from this list and what needs to be added. Everyone can see at all times what everyone is working on. We drag and drop tasks from list to list to organize them and sort them by priority. Once a task is completed, we simply check them off.

Searching ties everyting together and puts everything a click away

Whenever twe need to find something quick, we use the search functionality.

It searches across all content, files, wikis, blogs, cases etc, making it easy to find anything you want. We can even filter our searches based on the content type.

Communifire Works

Communifire continues to proove to be a great way for us to manage the development of Communifire. 

If we can use it, I'm sure you can too.  Our internal teams are able to easily collaborate with each other to successfully launch new versions of Communifire, solve problems, and communicate daily.

And the best thing about it, is that we don't have to use 3-4 different SaaS applications and tie them all together with API's.  Everything we need to develop great software is already provided in Communifire.

Communifire helps teams inside the organization to get work done. 

 

How to Know if Your Company Needs an Intranet

 

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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