Balancing Engineering and Support at amazee.io

We do support differently at amazee.io, there is no tier one or ticket system to navigate. The people that build the systems also support the systems and are never more than a chat message away.


amazee.io has developed a system that allows our engineers to alternately focus on building and improving our next generation hosting solutions and helping our clients immediately and directly through our chat-based support.



Creating a schedule that works for everyone

As we grew and support needs were increasing it became more and more common that multiple people would be pulled in to help solve problems. Although we love the spirit of collaboration a stop and start atmosphere wasn’t ideal for engineering and so we came up with the idea for alternating “sprints” to focus on support or engineering. (Disclaimer: although we use the word sprints this isn’t actually an Agile system but rather a continuous schedule)


The schedule we currently operate on is two weeks of support and two weeks of engineering. It’s not a completely pure system, of course, you might get pulled into support when you are on an engineering sprint but there is an expectation that you can and should have time to build, to innovate, and to unplug if necessary to do it.


Advantages to the two-week approach

The advantages of this schedule are clear. There is always someone on hand to solve problems and respond to questions when they come up. At the same time, we are recognizing that to be able to build something complicated you need uninterrupted time. All hours are not created equal if you have to stop and start. This schedule gives engineers the freedom to periodically unplug from slack and client channels if necessary to focus entirely on a complex project.


Two weeks of support

During a support sprint, helping clients is our first priority. Whoever is on the line knows all the ins and outs of the system. Many problems have ready solutions that all engineers are familiar with, such as a request to change a PHP setting.


This is not to say that engineers on this schedule won’t do anything but support, there are always tasks that can be done when things are running smoothly. But during a support sprint, it is expected that you are reachable and that your work will not be compromised by some interruptions.


Two weeks of engineering

On an engineering sprint, you can really work on projects. You can even unplug completely for a few hours if you’re prone to distractions. I personally don’t do that often because I’m good at multitasking and I can often help solve problems quickly. Even so, I appreciate the ability to go dark when I need to.


How does it work?

One of the reasons we are able to keep to this schedule is because we are a distributed team. This eliminates the distraction of people walking up to your desk and asking you questions, or (more likely for me) of overhearing a conversation and wanting to jump in and help.


When there is a problem that needs more help, it’s easy enough to pull in extra people or even to get everyone in the same virtual room to collaborate and fix something quickly.

Before working on this schedule at amazee.io, I used to only be able to do my truly focused work after hours when the office was empty. This schedule makes sure our clients can always talk to an expert, but gives those experts time to build and to innovate too.



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