mid sized company (101 — 1000 people)
Then I moved to a more serious startup and stayed there for quite a long time (from round B to E). During this time, the number of employees has increased from hundreds to half a thousand, and the zoo of tools has become quite impressive. My activity was first connected with the creation of documentation, training materials, and later with product management, so I will start with the appropriate software.
The choice of the platform for documentation was made for me – they said that it was necessary to figure out the manuals in Confluence. We even bought a face for 500 users and a plugin for versioning Scroll Versions. I must say right away that this was not the best choice for user documentation: it was inconvenient to do translation and versioning, setting up styles and exporting turned into flour. But in the presence of WYSIWYG, collaborative editing, SSO, RBAC and diagrams, you can insert and edit directly on the page.
Useful tips for those who still chose confluence:
- Calculate the number of user licenses for at least a year ahead.
- Pay only for author users.
Use open partitions with read access without registration. Being afraid of competitors, hiding documentation or making it paid is a sign of a weak product.
Use as few custom plugins as possible. Even the coolest and most expensive plugins have bugs or may stop being supported at any time.
Think about which tool you will use to create diagrams. The main thing is that all employees use the same one, and the sources are in the same repository.
When the task of localization and convenient versioning arose, it was decided to switch from confluence to the static site generator (docs-as-code) Docusaurus. There I had to finish the search and authorization, but the result was worth it.
And now a little bit about Tula for creating annotated screenshots and training videos. I even wrote a whole article about screenshots once, I think those tools are still relevant. We chose Camtasia for recording and editing video tutorials, and Snagit for taking screenshots. If it’s not a problem to find a screenshot, even a free one (ShareX), then we couldn’t find an alternative to Camtasia with the same user-friendly interface.
Once a product manager came to me and said: “I have a cool idea: let’s wash down the forum to share tips and listen to user feedback. So that we have a working forum tomorrow!” He liked the cheerful design from Flarum, and Atlassian Questions was declared too expensive. Due to the lack of the necessary functionality in Flarum, I went through a couple more and came across a super open source solution Discource – and immediately gave the admins the task to deploy it on our infrastructure.
After a while, the CEO came and said that it was necessary to train partner developers en masse and issue them certificates of completion of courses in the LMS (Learning Management System). He said to use Moonami or choose something similar, but not expensive. After using Moonami, we realized that this is just a service for those who do not know how to put an open source Moodle on their server and are ready to overpay for it. We’ve been messing with Moodle for a very long time, but we still set up courses and a certification system. For a while, an American who was a fan of Adobe Captivate worked for us, and we tried to redo the existing courses on this platform, but somehow it didn’t work: the price tag is atomic, the course editor is only as a desktop application, interactive presentations required flash. Perhaps now everything is super cool there and there are no disadvantages (except for the price, it’s Adobe). As a result, we hired a php team and they customized the muddle so that no one will even believe it now if they tell us what’s under the hood.
The epic of choosing Tula for planning (Roadmapping) deserves special mention. Top management, marketing and sales all complained that it was not clear from the jira, but they had to sell features in advance, and many roadmap customers wanted to see a year in advance. At first we bought Roadmunk, we started making all plans there, but at that time the integration with jira was there only as a beta. Then the new head of the product came, and he was using the last job Aha.io , so we quickly bought this Ahu. There is certainly not software, but a spaceship — you can study for years how to use it. Features can be displayed with sausages, and in a circle, and multicolored cards with dependency arrows. It took a long time to set up mapping of jira fields to Aha fields, in the end everything took off and looked quite decent, although it turned out to be indecently expensive, so not everyone in the company had access.
But here is the most striking moment in this whole story – when planning a new release, our brave boss still used the excel, then all of it was edited together, discussed and copied to Ahu. That is, we bought expensive software, but used only a small part of it and spent more than half of the time on copy-paste. And like the cherry on the cake – some kind of averaged version of the excel and Ahi was then transferred to the PPTX presentation for showing to customers, managers and development teams before planning.