What every business leader should know about “knowledge reuse”


In 2018, engineers at expense-management software program firm Expensify wished a greater method to share and enhance upon technical information with their teammates. So, they began utilizing Q&A platform Stack Overflow for Groups. Earlier than lengthy, they’d catalogued a bunch of useful information, constructing a library that caught the eye of different workers on the firm.

“As quickly as we began to see the ability of getting a library written out for one staff throughout the group, it grew to become clear that there was worth in leveraging the platform throughout extra groups,” says Lauren Reid, a leader on the Success staff at Expensify.

The corporate put all of its core insurance policies in Stack Overflow for Groups, and it grew to become the “mainstay place for folks to ask questions,” Reid says. This made it simple for Expensify’s roughly 135 workers positioned everywhere in the world—from Barbados to London to Melbourne—to realize equal entry to firm experience, via a course of referred to as “information reuse.”

“Information reuse, fairly plainly put, is reusing the information that…others have already realized, created, or proved,” says Vasudha Swaminathan, director of product for Groups, at Stack Overflow. “Why go about reinventing the wheel?”


When firms benefit from information reuse—a collaborative course of by which concepts are shared, rapidly accessed, improved upon, after which put again into the system—there’s no have to waste time reinventing something. Slightly, staff members have prepared entry to crucial info that they’ll want time and again, permitting them to stay what Swaminathan describes as “within the stream”—and thereby growing productiveness and innovation at work.


 In Stack Overflow’s 2020 developer survey, many respondents famous coming throughout purple hyperlinks when on the lookout for coding options on-line. In different phrases, many had repeatedly requested the identical questions and have been led to the identical solutions on Google.

“The necessity to seize info and entry it time and again is commonplace,” says Pleasure Liuzzo, senior director of product advertising and marketing at Stack Overflow. As one individual put it, “There are lots of issues that I as soon as knew, however now not know, and it’s good when that previous information is documented someplace.”

It’s not simply good—it’s an enormous time saver. At Expensify, a core philosophy is #WriteItDown. “That instantly creates a extremely equitable framework for all workers to work from, no matter what time zone they’re in,” Reid says. Which means workers don’t have to attend for a selected subject-matter skilled (SME) on the opposite aspect of the globe to get up to allow them to ask a query—that individual has already written the reply down in Stack Overflow for Groups.

Expensify’s information reuse has elevated considerably since workers started the follow in 2018. Employees reused information on the firm about 20 occasions a day shortly after adoption, and to date in 2021, they’ve been averaging 97 cases of data reuse day by day.


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Monetary software program firm Intuit’s roughly 5,000 engineers go to Stack Overflow to search for solutions to their questions 120 times a day on average. “That’s 120 occasions a day that they’re not interrupting a colleague,” Liuzzo says.


Utilizing Stack Overflow for Groups doesn’t simply imply having equal entry to present workers’ information—it additionally retains former workers’ experience with the corporate even after they go away.

When SMEs depart, Swaminathan says, it’s simple to “get frantic about information switch and continuity.” However worker turnover—a current report estimates that 52% of the U.S. workforce will seek new jobs this year—doesn’t current the identical setbacks to firms when all their specialists’ prior information is recorded in a centralized, helpful location.

New workers can even construct off of previous workers’ work in Stack Overflow. The platform lays naked how colleagues develop information over time, which means previous workers’ work isn’t static, however continues to evolve with the corporate.

Recording firm insurance policies and greatest practices in a centralized location additionally simplifies the onboarding course of for brand new hires and helps to align them with the corporate’s mission and strategies. “For brand spanking new workers, it may be overwhelming attempting to run [a project] and preserve throughout the [company’s] framework,” Reid says. Utilizing Stack Overflow as a “central reference” lets new workers know they’re heading in the right direction even when they’re performing a activity that’s fully novel for them. At Expensify, Stack Overflow for Groups additionally serves as a repository for workplace-policy info, on all the pieces from parental go away to what to do in case your laptop computer breaks.


For Swaminathan, an enormous a part of information reuse just isn’t solely about “bridging the hole” between staff members, however completely different groups as nicely. At Stack Overflow, for instance, the gross sales staff makes use of the product internally to share their supplies earlier than a brand new product launch. As a result of this takes place transparently in Stack Overflow for Groups, these on the product aspect get perception into the questions and feedback the gross sales staff has about their work, informing how they could strategy product growth to higher tackle these questions going ahead.

At Expensify, this makes for extra agile groups, ones the place, as Reid places it, “anybody can step into any [role] at any level.” Staff don’t should confine themselves to a selected space of experience, assigned after they first be a part of the corporate. Slightly, they’ll proceed to study from friends in several departments via the data all of them share in Stack Overflow for Groups. It lets staff develop their careers whereas remaining on the identical firm—and prevents boredom.

“Staff can simply look internally for different alternatives,” Reid says. “The entry to that information—and the power to ask questions and have that written down centrally—is all one massive interconnected loop for us.”