Flex lays the groundwork for future innovation with the help of Stack Overflow
In 2016, The Flex Company launched with eight employees that shared the common goal of creating life-changing period products for women. Since then, Flex has raised $3.5 million in funding and established itself as one of the leading innovators in the health and wellness space.
As Flex evolved over the last few years, the need for a more sophisticated and organized approach to software development became abundantly clear to its leadership team. Learn how Flex’s engineering team leveraged Stack Overflow for Teams to capture internal knowledge and increase everyone’s productivity.
The Challenge(s): Inconsistent and disorganized documentation
Morgan Jones joined Flex as its Director of Engineering in 2018. Even though the department was small, Morgan knew that one of her top priorities upon accepting the job was to improve team-wide collaboration.
“We relied on a few different products for document sharing,” Morgan says. “But because there were so many different sources of truth, we didn’t have a very coherent approach to documentation—and as a result, a lot of historical context was lost.”
The challenge of finding an effective documentation platform has followed Morgan throughout her career. “As a manager, the concept of living documentation is something that has occupied me for quite some time,” says Morgan. “For a long time, I didn’t think there were many ways to do it even remotely well.”
The Solution: A platform that Flex’s developers were already familiar with
Because of her familiarity with Stack Overflow, Morgan says that she was immediately intrigued by the possibility of Teams.
“Because it’s so interactive, a private version of Stack Overflow immediately felt like the best way to approach documentation,” she says. “And because most developers are already comfortable with the platform, I figured it wouldn’t be an uphill battle to convince them that Teams was the right solution.”
After Flex implemented Stack Overflow for Teams, Morgan tells us that it paid immediate dividends. She tells us that information that had been considered lost was suddenly documented, organized, and easily accessible. As a result of this initial success, Morgan says the next logical step was to make Teams an even bigger part of the software development process at Flex.
“Because we work with so many contractors, we’ve made it a requirement to answer relevant questions on Stack Overflow for Teams before marking a project as ‘complete’,” says Morgan. “This addition to our process enables us to capture all of the important details before we move on to something else.”
The Results: A new definition of the term “legacy code”
Morgan and the team at Flex have already seen short and long-term benefits of using Stack Overflow for Teams. “We recently had an engineer leave for an extended break during the holiday season, and Teams was instrumental in making sure we had proper coverage,” Morgan says. “Instead of peppering him with questions before he left, I was able to write them down and get his answers documented by him, which was really helpful for both of us.”
Morgan also feels that Stack Overflow will have a long-lasting effect on more than just Flex’s approach to documentation. “We're a startup, so I'm starting this now as something that hopefully will continue to pay dividends for a very long time,” she says.
“I've worked at places where so much information is locked up in people's heads or people who've left the company. Stack Overflow for Teams gives me confidence that we’ll have all the historical context we need to hit our future engineering goals.”