Solar VPS Blog

Full Transparency and Solar VPS "Ask the Company" Application

Transparency is one of those words that, I think, has jumped the shark. It’s become a buzzword, if you will. A word that has lost its original intention. The Enterprise embraced social media, and with that, it seemed every company boasted the hip new tenet of “transparency” because they got on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon.

Businesses have been interacting with clients in public and private forums since the beginning of time. Likewise, a company cannot exist without sharing some amount of higher level information with employees. So, what are companies doing to truly go above and beyond the ordinary level of transparency, both internally (with employees) and externally (with clients)?

I’d like to introduce myself, and then share a few things that have happened here at Solar VPS to further the cause of transparency. My name is Matt McCaffrey, and I’m a part of the Solar VPS development team. My team is very busy with a long list of features and enhancements to add to the SolarSystem, and I’d like to share my thoughts on some of those another time. Today, I wanted to talk about a few initiatives that I’ve been involved in that aren’t related to code.

So, what am I doing here? A developer, on the company blog? Yeah, it’s happening. We’re all doing our best to be more accessible. We’re building our SolarSystem Knowledgebase by sharing our tech knowledge, and have all been invited to share our thoughts on the company blog. I will be watching the blog closely, and if you have any thoughts, I hope you’ll share them in a comment. Also, if you want to reach me personally, I’m @mmccaff on Twitter.

This, though, is what made me start thinking about the topic at hand: About a month ago, our president and COO, Ross Brouse, asked me to write an internal “Ask the Company” application. The goal of the application was to allow any employee to ask any question with the option of anonymity. Managers are alerted when a new question is asked, and an admin interface allows managers to login with AD authentication to answer, categorize, and email alert the company with the answer. The answers remain visible and searchable through the company’s web interface.

Here is a screenshot of the screen where a question can be asked: Ask the Company! Screenshot

I spun this up in a day or so using CodeIgniter and Twitter Bootstrap. The initial effort here was on the development side to create the tool, but now that it exists, the continuing effort remains on the people using the tool to take the time to sincerely and effectively communicate through it. So far it’s worked really well, and there have been a lot of open, honest, and thoughtful questions and answers. More information has been shared with everyone because of this, something that helps us stay on the same page.

This simple application is something that could benefit any company, and we’d like to share it. We put it up on our github. We can’t promise any technical support for this, but it’s all yours, it’s open source, and you can use and improve it as you wish.

Get the Source.

Best,
Matt
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