SD Expo Europe – From the other side!

Sometimes I wonder if being introduced to Support Driven has been one of the best parts of my career life so far!

Last year, I attended SD Expo in Portland. Whenever I become part of community events, my aim is to volunteer and help as much as possible. This is like my way of giving back to the community. Last year, I volunteered as Talk Editor – where I worked with few of the speakers, in terms of helping them with their slides or any other help they needed.

This year I moved to volunteering as Talk Co-ordinator for SD Expo in Belgrade. Wherein I was working with the Talk Editors who were further working with the Speakers. The responsibilities included but not limited to:

  • Helping Talk Editors with anything and everything. They can have questions from Speakers and my job was to help with answers to those questions by finding more details. They can also need your help in contacting a speaker for xyz reasons.
  • I was responsible for co-ordinating things to make sure we had the slides ready by time.
  • I had to make sure the master slide-deck was ready on time.
  • On the day of the Expo, I had to take care of Speaker Orientation and MC Orientation. This was a session to walk the speakers through all the details – in terms of how to find the room where they’re going to give the talk, when to arrive, how to keep track of the time etc.
  • I also took on the role of MC on the Expo day. This is where you introduce the speaker before their talk. You share some personal tidbits about them to break the ice before the talk.
Speaker Orientation Session

Takeaways and Contributions:

  • Volunteering as a Talk Coordinator is a good opportunity to test and improve your organisational skills. You’re literally organising a one whole section of the conference ie. Talks. I’m really grateful to Andrea for giving me this opportunity.
  • A great way to network with community members. I can say I am now good friends with all the Talk Editors that I worked with. We shared great memories while working together.
  • I was able to streamline the process further for future conferences by giving suggestions where I saw room for improvement. They’re added to the list then and there! ✅

Achievement

#achievementunlocked

This is my achievement. Those Kudos mean a lot to me. I used to dream of being able to contribute to the community and I’m doing it now! 😌

PS – Some other memories!

My connecting flight was delayed big time. I reached the hotel at 1:00 AM in the morning after an almost ~20-22 hours flight. But, I was up again at 6:30AM to start the day. Apparently, the excitement of being part of the conference took over and I wasn’t feeling tired at all. I was probably the only person in flip-flops! But hey-ho! I was enjoying! 😉😂

Speaker Orientation Session

This was the first SD Expo in Europe. I’m looking forward to many more in the future.

It’s a Wonderful Life

It’s that time of the year again when you sit back and press the Rewind button to go through all the memories you made throughout the year. It’s also the time to reflect on what you learned from your decisions and celebrate the achievements you made. I want to write this post to summarise the timeline of how the 12 months went for me this year.

January: The year started with the news that we’re in the process of getting acquired by another company. #anxietyhits

February: I had my US visa interview. If you’re to a make list of anxiety-inducing things, US visa interview will definitely make it to the list. But, thanks to my manager. He helped me prepare for this and it went well. I got the visa! #somethingtocheerabout

March: My first visit to the US, met my friends from @supportdriven for the first time,  my first Elevate conference, my first conference as Speaker. #yay

PS: The acquisition was also confirmed by this time.

April: Started hunting for new jobs to move on, after finishing knowledge transfer to the new team.  #preparingforgoodbyes

May: Left job and moved to Bangalore. #newcity #newadventure. The only thing that worked for me in Bangalore was just the weather though.

June: In all this, time for another conference. This time #sdexpo Portland. Another #first added to my kitty. This was my first Support Driven conference. I met so many amazing people!😎 #moreconferences #volunteering

SD Expo.jpg

July: While I was still trying to adjust to Bangalore, I thought of distracting myself with some local trips. I booked a trip to Coorg from Thrillophilia. This was my first “proper” trek experience. Also, this was the month when I wrote my first blog for @supportdcontent. #proud #trekking

PS: I damaged my phone because it rained heavily throughout the trek! 🙈

Tadiana.jpg

After reaching the Tadiandamol peak!

August: This was one month where I was on a plane for all four weekends. I hit the jackpot when I came across return ticket to Sri Lanka for just INR 11000. (This is approximately the ticket price to travel from North to South within India.) And, I booked the ticket straight away.  #solotravelling

Sri Lanka.jpg

Loved all these temples that I went to! They’re so peaceful!

September: I got the best news of my life! I successfully completed the Trial period with @automattic and got hired as Happiness Engineer. It was time to say #goodbye to Bangalore now and come back up North where all of my “few” friends that I have, were. #happynews #friendsforever.

October: Came back to Gurgaon, settled in my new flat and didn’t even realize where the whole month went. #newbeginnings.

November: Attended my #first WordCamp and WooCommerce Workshop for Women in Kochi. Also, met my team from Automattic. #lifeisgood

WC.jpg

December: It’s almost the end of 2018…but I’m glad to end it on a happy note.

In retrospect: Almost the whole first half of the year was full of anxiety and uncertainty but I believe keeping myself busy with different things helped me to come out successfully through this period. When I look back, I notice a lot of #firsts that I did in this year which make me proud and more confident going forward.

It’s indeed a wonderful life! 💃

Blogging – The way to showcase your work

I used to notice and wonder how engineers are always crazy about maintaining their GitHub profiles. Its because that is where they show the work that they have been part of or have contributed to. But being in Support we have limited work related to Pull Requests etc.to use GitHub as our work graph or timeline.

So, I used to think of the alternatives where I could talk about the work that I have been doing in Support. It was never a question on whether I should blog about work or career, it was more about how do I take my work out there?

I wanted to start small and build interest in writing before I invested in maintaining my own blog. So, I started writing for Kayako’s blog. It worked well and helped me to build confidence. I learnt the art of blogging while working with our Growth and Marketing team. Later on,I signed up for Medium account and started writing there about my work experiences and general topics.

The passion for writing kept on growing. I wrote for Support Driven’s writing challenge, guest blogs for Freshdesk and Nicereply, and also thanks to Supported Content  which provides me even more diverse topics to write on. By now, I was ready to have my own blog too where I wanted to list all my work and career related experiences through blog posts. There were two reasons why I wanted to go for it:

  • One, it would have helped me to take my work and learnings to a bigger audience.
  • Second, because it can work as a good replacement to traditional resumes.

Some of the reasons why I think we should all write about our work and career is because:

  • Someone who is just starting their career can learn from your experience. They don’t have to waste their time in pacing up their career by hit and trial method when they can learn from your experiences already.
  • I believe that the best practices for every industry change over time and they should actually. The more people write about these best practices at their work, the more standard they become for others to try and get results.
  • For instance, if you have written a blog explaining how attending a particular conference helped you in your career, someone out there can use it to convince their management to support them to attend those conferences.
  • People can learn from each other as to how different companies are using certain processes and workflows. Helpdesks are the biggest example. No two companies use them in the same way but if people write how they use them, it can help them streamline workflows better by learning from each other.

I’d say that I can’t stress enough on the importance of writing about work or career related topics. It not only shows a timeline of how you have improved over time in your career but it also helps other people.

How Support Teams can support Engineering Teams!

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I’m going to summarise my talk at the SD Expo 2018 in this blog. The purpose was to share different ways in which Support can help the Engineering team in being more efficient and effective. (I’ve also attached the Slides at the end.) #supportforengineering.

I’m pretty sure at one point or another you would have heard your engineering team complain that X, Y, and Z information is missing from the JIRA ticket. Or, the fact that Support tries to get almost every bug prioritised as an important one. All these things lead to frustration and lack of productivity because you’re chasing each other for information and prioritisation.

I’m going to talk about some of the things which can help both the teams in terms of productivity and getting things done asap.

Make use of API responses:

We’ve learnt over time that it helps engineers to understand the problem quickly and easily if you add the API response when logging an issue.

Its simple: Right Click -> Inspect Element -> Network tab: Click on the API response to see the details (as shown in the example image below.

 

Log bugs with all the required details:

Its always a plus point to have a sample bug or feature request template but even if you don’t want to force your support team to use one, they should still cover all the handy information in it.

It should include but not limited to:

  • Exact steps to replicate the issue.
  • Any API errors/response as shared in the first point.
  • Exact environment details in which the issue was replicated. Eg: Browser, OS etc.
  • Actual Result that you get as of now following the replication steps.
  • Expected result from the functionality in question.

All these details in the ticket means you can avoid a lot back and forth communication for requesting details, not only between Support and Engineering but also between Support and the Customer.

Pro-Tip: Try to add some emojis and humour to the Jira tickets. It can have psychological impact 😉

Having a dedicated Bug Basher to prioritise bugs:

Well, yes, everyone’s reported bug is important to be fixed. But the next question is which one is more important among all the important ones. Having a dedicated bug basher means this gets prioritised (based on your selected metrix) , chased and done in a timely manner.

This will also ensure that the bugs get triaged before reaching the engineering team. I’m sure that you will agree that sometimes there are chances that the bug marked is not actually a bug.

Handling such exceptional cases at a triage stage can not only help you save your engineers’ time but it can also help you highlight where you need to train your team on….which brings us to the next point.

Develop in-depth product knowledge:

Along with general product training it’s also important that your support team is kept up to date with all the changes happening with regards to your product, be it rolling out new feature or a bug fix.

You need to ensure that your support team is the first to use any new product change that is going to be rolled out to the customers. This will not only help you with QA’ing but will also ensure that your Support team is able to answer any questions related to the change and can handle it independently.

Have Engineering<> Support meeting once a month:

This can help you bring more collaboration between both the teams. You can use this discuss things which can allow both the teams to compliment each others’ work. This is because you will get to hear from someone else’s perspective on how your work is impacting theirs and from there you can work on making things better.

In addition to all this it’s important to have brainstorming sessions with them. It will help you understand their way of thinking and working. Go for it even it means arranging them on your own.

While these things can make your Engineering team more productive, this also means better turnaround time for your customers which is a win-win for everyone involved.

 

Link to Slides: SD Expo

 

The Collection so far!

I’ve always wanted to have a website listing all my work. This has been a dream since the days when I hadn’t even written any blogs or attended conferences. Then came a point when I thought that I’ve got enough stuff hosted at different places and its about time that I put it all together. But I still didn’t cross the finishing line to get started. And, finally one day I signed up for a domain name and a WordPress account to get started…..because when you start paying for a subscription you start making time to put things together.

After giving it a lot of thought I decided that it’s best to link all my existing work as it is and use this to be the place for writing new stuff going forward. So, here we go with the list of blogs that I’ve written so far and the webinars that I’ve given.

Blogs:

Webinars: