Earlier this year, I shared a post entitled Technology is a Journey – Not a Location, in which I contrasted the efforts of the Softdocs development team against an “Ivory Tower” approach to software development. Throughout my career as a software engineer, I’ve observed the costly blunders that accompany these Ivory Towers, with engineers foolhardily working in an engineering vacuum thinking they know exactly what their software needs to do.

Let me proudly reassert that Softdocs is no Ivory Tower.

In my previous post, I introduced the Softdocs Development Partner Program and a newly founded Product Ideas Section within the Softdocs Community (our online customer portal), as two key initiatives we were committing significant resources to build up. Today, I’d like to briefly outline a third initiative that has proven instrumental in helping our team elevate our responsiveness to customer requests for new features and product improvements.

The Softdocs Customer Advocacy Team (CAT)

Each Sprint period, our Customer Advocacy Team (CAT) is staffed by Softdocs Development personnel with the sole objective of reacting to customer tickets that have been received by Softdocs Support, but require assistance from Softdocs Development to fulfill. CAT leverages the combined experience and skillsets of its members to dive deeply into product code to research, address and improve specific features. While the makeup of CAT changes from Sprint to Sprint, it remains the primary point of contact in Development for Softdocs Support, under the direction of two permanent team leaders, a Product Manager and a Quality Assurance Manager.

These individuals provide continuity in vision, as they own the responsibility to communicate and drive Softdocs’ response to the needs of our customers that have been expressed. During each Sprint, an expert from each product area lends their expertise to CAT for the duration of that particular Sprint. If CAT has no active requests to address, CAT members rejoin their respective teams – until an escalation arrives from Support. At that point, their tasks are reassigned and they join CAT to pursue a resolution to the request.

As the VP of Development at Softdocs, I am thrilled by the opportunities CAT has created for our company, our customers and our employees. Not only does CAT ensure that every customer request receives timely resolution, but as our developers and quality assurance members rotate through this team they are learning valuable insights into how exactly our customers are leveraging our solutions and which challenges they are facing. These insights are empowering Softdocs Development to strategically advance the product to not only better serve the institution which originally contacted Softdocs Support with a request, but every member of the Softdocs Community. Through CAT, and the other initiatives I’ve described, Softdocs maintains perspective on the real-world impact our software has. This, in turn, allows our company to honor our commitment to the Education space—to develop remarkable software that empowers institutions to more efficiently serve students, faculty and staff.

Again, I say Softdocs is no Ivory Tower. Our methodology is transparency, inspection and adaption. Our ongoing efforts to strengthen how we support our customers and advance the solutions they leverage every day are built upon the feedback and requests that we receive.

If you are an existing Softdocs customer with thoughts, comments or concerns, please reach out to me through the Softdocs Community. I would love to connect with you.