How BigCommerce Boosts Collaboration Across Time Zones with Threads
Threads has helped BigCommerce consolidate important discussions into one searchable, organized platform, so their employees can communicate more effectively as a large, asynchronous team.
BigCommerce, a leading Open SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established brands, has a large team communicating across multiple time zones. BigCommerce is comprised of more than 60,000 merchants across 150+ countries and 1000+ talented employees working remotely and in multiple offices around the world. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on.
“Communication and context across global time zones is paramount for us at BigCommerce,” Shaun McCormick, Principal Software Engineer at BigCommerce, said.
That’s where Threads comes in. Since 2019, we’ve helped BigCommerce consolidate important discussions into one searchable, organized platform, so their employees can communicate more effectively as a large, asynchronous team.
Challenge: Fragmented communication across time zones and multiple platforms
Like many companies with hundreds of team members spread across various locations, BigCommerce found it challenging to communicate across multiple tools and time zones.
BigCommerce has offices in Austin, San Francisco, Sydney, Kyiv, and London, and they have remote team members. With the time difference and varying schedules, Shaun said it can be slightly taxing to bring everyone together in the decision-making process.
BigCommerce specifically wanted to improve the request for comments (RFC) process—the process in place when someone suggests a new service or major change and solicits feedback from colleagues. Research, prep work, and discussions were often done in Google Docs, but these documents were sometimes private or inaccessible, and comment history was easily lost.
“A lot of the discovery and research and investigation processes were getting lost, not involving the right people, or just not getting done,” Shaun said.
Solution: Consolidate discussions and increase transparency with Threads
In 2019, Shaun and the BC Engineering team looked at a variety of tools that would make it easier to communicate remotely. Ultimately, Threads—and the features it provides—was a good fit for BigCommerce’s distributed team.
Threads allowed BigCommerce team members to tag each other, request responses, and mark discussions for follow-up. These collaborative features help make sure anyone who needs to can weigh in, no matter when and where they’re working. Messages, otherwise referred to as threads, that employees need to respond to show up in their individual inbox, so important discussions don’t get missed among multiple emails and thousands of Slack messages.
While users can send private messages in Threads, public communication is the default setting. Those public threads made it easier for BigCommerce team members to review historical context from previous discussions and offer their insights. They don’t have to send a direct message in Slack or ask for access to a private Google Doc every time they need information.
“[Those features] lined up with what we wanted to use Threads for, and how we wanted it to streamline tools like email, Confluence, and some of the Slack conversations that were happening in private or isolated channels,” Shaun said.
Results: Fewer meetings, fewer emails, and less context switching
By centralizing communication, Threads has helped BigCommerce become more transparent and communicate more effectively as an asynchronous team. Shaun said that email has decreased as more discussions happen in Threads.
“There's still some email that goes on in Engineering, but a lot of our communication and collaboration tools are essentially channeled through Threads at this point,” said Shaun.
Much of the company’s engineering discovery work is also done on Threads rather than meetings and comments across various platforms and documents. This asynchronous-first method allows more of the team to participate and offer their insights.
“We’ve tried to move a lot of our technical decision-making out of meeting rooms and into asynchronous [threads],” Shaun said.
Because discussions are documented and public, employees gain a deeper understanding of how and why decisions are made.
“I think that we have found quite a bit of value in opening up that process and making it easier for people— especially new people at the company—to discover not only where information is, but also why those decisions were made and the history behind them,” Shaun said.
Another benefit Shaun noted is more focused work and less switching between tasks. Rather than immediately responding to a discussion—as is common practice with Slack and instant-messaging tools in many work settings—he can mark it for follow-up. His coworkers know he’s seen the post and plans to respond, but he’s able to stay focused on his current task. Then, he can come back to the discussion later after he’s had time to form a thoughtful response.
People and processes are key to success with Threads
As an early Threads adopter, Shaun and the BigCommerce team are pros when it comes to using Threads effectively. If you’re thinking about trying Threads, Shaun suggests putting clear guidelines in place and finding “champions” to help with implementation.
Shaun noted that one of BigCommerce’s very first posts in Threads was a pinned chart showing how the various threads were set up and how to use the platform.
“Figure out what content you want in [Threads], create that flow chart, and communicate that proactively,” he said.
Once those guidelines are in place, connect with teams who are already communicating well. These “champions” can start posting consistently and offer constructive feedback.
And, of course, the Threads team will be right by your side every step of the way. Check out our Help Center for tips on getting started, managing your account, and more.