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Get in the L↻↺P: a modern framework for Developer Enablement and Support

Community
November 28, 2023
Josh Dzielak
Co-Founder & CTO
Get in the L↻↺P: a modern framework for Developer Enablement and Support
Welcome to The Observatory, the community newsletter from Orbit.

Each week we go down rabbit holes so you don't have to. We share tactics, trends and valuable resources we've observed in the world of community building.

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LOOP is a holistic, 4-stage framework for Developer Enablement and Support. LOOP helps companies shift left critical parts of their developer experience, increasing developer productivity and improving the ROI of support.

In our context, shifting left means empowering developers to solve more of their own problems, reducing the number of support interactions (and moments of confusion) between them and achieving their goal. Shifting left makes developers more productive and frees up support to focus on the highest priorities. Everybody wins!

The name LOOP reflects the positive feedback loops that emerge when knowledge gathered from support is used to improve self-service resources. As enablement gets more effective, support load decreases, giving support time to absorb what’s being learned and improve resources for enablement.

The 4 LOOP Stages  

The LOOP Stages trace the developer experience from full autonomy to needing professional help. They're grouped into 2 categories - Enablement and Support. Enablement Stages have a single human actor. Support Stages have more than one

Enablement

  1. Self Service - I am helping me
  2. AI Assistance - AI is helping me

Support

  1. Community Support - The community is helping me
  2. Tiered Support - The company is helping me

Developer-facing companies need all LOOP Stages and must be strong at each one 💪

  • Docs are not enough
  • Community is not enough
  • Support is not enough

Inadequate developer resources, a frustrated community, or overloaded support can compound into a negative feedback loop, a vicious cycle. You don’t want that. 

You want a positive feedback loop that improves and compounds over time.

How can companies be strong at all LOOP Stages?

LOOP Principle 1: Knowledge flows right to left, enabling the entire process to shift left and stay there, improving over time even as users, revenue, and product complexity grow.

EXAMPLE KNOWLEDGE FLOWS →

  • If an important discovery about missing documentation is made during a support call, the docs need to be updated.
  • If a community conversation answers a common getting started question not answered in the tutorial, the tutorial needs to be updated.
  • If an AI Assistant is deployed, all updates from docs, the community, and support need to be made available to it. The Assistant cannot assist if it has wrong, outdated, or incomplete information.
  • If a Search is offered to developers, the same is true. Developers should be able to search as much information as possible to increase the chance they can solve their own problem.
We built Community Search to help developer companies practice principle #1. Community Search is a new product that combines community conversations and documentation search into a single experience. With Community Search your developers can find answers and ideas from your Discord server, your forum, across your GitHub repositories, as well as in your core docs and guides — all from the same search bar. In other words, it helps you shift knowledge from right to left, which is a big win for everyone. Learn more in this announcement.
Shift left with Orbit Community Search

LOOP Principle 2: Each stage needs to be instrumented to see how performing is changing over time. Each stage produces a unique set of insights that companies can use to improve the stage and better integrate it with others. Insight flows in every direction.

EXAMPLE INSIGHT FLOWS →

  • Web and search analytics are used to understand how well self-service content is performing and where gaps are.
  • AI Assistant conversations are analyzed to discover what developers are curious about or struggling with in their own words.
  • Support analytics are used to find non-obvious gaps and enrich content with stories of sophisticated use cases and real-world, at-scale learning from the biggest customers.

It sounds simple. But companies fail to do this in surprising ways, often without realizing it.

We’ve all heard developers say:

  • “I can’t find anything in this documentation!”
  • “This tutorial hasn’t been updated in years and breaks on the first step. npm install goodbye!”
  • “I had no idea this was available in the latest release.”
  • "No wonder it didn't work, I was looking at the wrong version of the docs."
  • “I couldn't find an existing issue so I opened a new one.”
  • “What the solutions engineer said is the opposite of what the docs told me to do.”
  • “I posted a question in the community but I only got one answer and it didn’t work.“
  • “I found 1 answer on Reddit and 1 answer on StackOverflow and I’m afraid to try either of them.”
  • “I emailed them but I haven’t gotten a response - maybe because I’m not on a paid plan?”

If developers can't find and trust the knowledge that enables them to achieve their goals on their own, they will not be happy:

“Don’t take it personally. Developers just aren’t into talking through an issue with a support representative. 94% of developers say you don’t need phone-based technical support and only half (48%) say they would like technical support via live chat. They prefer to find the answer on their own or by asking their peers. You’ll want to make sure to have a system that allows that — Q&A systems are what you need here.”—Developer Support Best Practices

There is good news! All of these failures can be corrected with tools and processes that are available today. Look to L↻↺P for guidance on how to get knowledge flowing left ⬅️ and developer satisfaction going up 📈 Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks and months.

You can start improving your LOOP today with Community Search — check it out now.

💫  Orbit is Hiring Engineers in US/EMEA

Orbit helps grow and measure thousands of communities like Kubernetes and CircleCI. We're a remote-first company with a product-driven, empathetic engineering team that enjoys the occasional space pun! Check out our careers page for open opportunities.

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