Rotating software engineers through different teams and functions was a daring experiment for InterPro Solutions. Here is their CEO Bill Fahey's feedback on the experience.

Source: Forbes – In 2009, as my company transitioned from a professional services company to a mobile software provider, we knew we had to build a top-flight support organization. To do so, we staffed with experienced support pros who could quickly get the group up and running — and they did so. We soon realized, however, that for complex support scenarios, we often needed to bring in a software engineer to help with the diagnosis and troubleshooting.

While this is not unusual, we wanted the support team to be able to handle more requests autonomously, and we also wanted the engineers to understand the impact an issue can have upon our customers’ operations so they would share the sense of urgency to quickly resolve an issue.

Thus began our engineering rotation program.

By rotating software engineers through support, we were able to improve knowledge transfer between the engineering team and the support team, which not only reduced case resolution times, but over time, reduced the number of cases.

How software engineers’ rotations were really helpful

• Engineers were able to better understand the customer experience, which helped them create better products once they were back to full-time engineering, which translated to less issues overall.

• Often engineers were troubleshooting code that they themselves wrote, meaning the best possible expert was on the case, accelerating case resolution.

• Even complex issues were resolved quickly, boosting customer satisfaction.

Our engineers also loved it — it made them better developers, and they took pride in developing rock-solid products. We then expanded the rotation program to include a stint in sales, inviting engineers to work closely with sales on demos and proposals. Very often, the person demonstrating the product was a member of the team that built it, and that pride of authorship came through. Their obvious passion for the products helped us close more business.

We have since expanded the approach by inviting the software engineers to rotate through different areas of our technical group — server-side development, mobile application development and QA — and to move between products. As we’ve grown from a single flagship product to five, the ability to share concepts, tools and even code between the products has allowed us to evolve from selling multiple products to offering an integrated suite of mobile products that are tightly woven together for maximum business impact.

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