Becoming a Stronger Team While Designing Our First App Coming Soon to the Microsoft Teams App Store
When the pandemic hit, we knew many of our customers would shift their technology priorities so that their company could weather the storm. The IntelliTect leadership refused to lay any of our team members off during this uncertain time. Instead, they decided to create projects that would help our team become more efficient and allow for more effective communication.
The IntelliWiki project has been so successful within our team that we are releasing it to the Microsoft Teams App Store!
Standardizing Our Communications
Not long before the pandemic, our team members used their own forms of online communication. One person might have used Zoom, while another primarily used FaceTime, Skype, or Google Hangouts. They also shared documents in DropBox, Google Docs, or via email. Chat options were equally challenging. In an effort to streamline our business, we switched everything over to Microsoft Teams.
Teams helped clarify which tool to use for various communications and where to store documents. However, it didn’t have a wiki that met our team’s needs. None of our previous tools for communicating had satisfied this demand either. Our CEO, Mark Michaelis, reached out to Microsoft and discovered they weren’t planning to improve or grow their current wiki.
So, we decided to invest in ourselves. Several of our team members met and began to dream big about what features to build into IntelliTect’s wiki. A wiki is a way to organize knowledge so that it can be easily entered and consumed. There were several great ideas, and in the end, we created a collaborative text editor for Teams. The editor is effective at helping us to manage the knowledge in our organization.
By creating IntelliWiki, we not only have a high-functioning wiki, we now have a rich environment to create, collaborate, and share ideas with our organization in real-time.
IntelliWiki brought our team together as we worked to craft a tool to solve our knowledge management challenges. We knew we needed to create a product that we would love to use.
Version one of IntelliWiki will soon be available in the Microsoft Teams App Store!
“IntelliWiki provides a central location for us to record and collaborate about what we know,” IntelliTect CEO Mark Michaelis said. “Rather than point-to-point communication via email that ultimately causes knowledge to leak, IntelliWiki provides a platform for knowledge to proliferate and even multiply.”
There will be a free version with some basic features and an Enterprise version with extended functionality.
As shown in the above chart, the app allows for collaborative editing, revision history, page and @mentions, and wiki page searching within Teams, among other features. It also has all of the basic features available in the default Teams wiki, including adding user @mentions, markdown support, and rich-text editing.
IntelliWiki – More Than an App
Once the project was underway, we discovered that several of our clients didn’t want to put their projects on hold. Since no one was actively using their software during quarantine, now was the perfect time to continue their technology upgrades. IntelliTect was even taking on new clients. As a result, most of our developers transitioned from IntelliWiki to client projects. Determined to see this project through, we hired more developers.
Stephen Hoerner, one of our senior software engineers and the lead for the IntelliWiki project, learned that the creation of IntelliWiki produced an important side benefit for our company.
He recently joined our team after working for Google on Google Classroom and Google Forms.
Pair-Programming Helped Our Team Grow
Stephen found that working on an internal project was also a beneficial onboarding technique. In the process of ramping up new people, Stephen worked directly with members of his team rather than giving them individual projects. Because of COVID, he was often screen sharing, and as a result of pair-programming, he was inadvertently teaching his team new shortcuts such as advanced features of the Chrome developer tools.
These simple tricks surfaced during these collaborative sessions, and end up “being another tool in their tool belt that they can use forever,” Stephen said. “It makes them 1 percent better, and if you just keep adding to that 1 percent, they can be significantly better over time.”
Our first app, designed for a broad audience, has become more than a project for our team. It united us during a time of separation and showed us that collaboration not only makes a product better but also helps our team grow as developers and colleagues.
“Pairing with someone above my skill level was beneficial to my learning process,” said Meg Woodford, IntelliTect software engineer. “During the session, what I found most helpful was the constant flow of ideas. When ideas are suggested during pair-programming sessions, I don’t typically ask ‘do I know how to do that?’ because I have someone else to discuss that question with. If we both are unsure, we can research the solution together. This teamwork typically takes less time than independent research as we both have bits and pieces to the solution individually, so there are fewer knowledge gaps to fill in.”
While some of our team has returned to working at the office, many continue to work from home. No matter where we are, our team stays connected when we use IntelliWiki and Microsoft Teams.
Maybe IntelliWiki Can Help Improve Your Team’s Collaboration?
Click here to find out more about IntelliWiki, or head to the Teams App Store and try out our Enterprise Version available in the near future!
Written by Erin Wissing.