Stories of CCX

How a Technical Architect Brings Perspective to Development

Long-term employees can be incredible assets to a company. Their understanding of internal systems and expansive knowledge of company information and history can help boost customer satisfaction, improve morale and efficiency for their colleagues, and provide a fantastic knowledge base for training and mentorship. But perhaps the most important thing they can offer their colleagues is an expansive perspective.

“Initially we started as a staffing company, then a services company,” explains Venkatesh “Venky” Muppalaneni, a CommerceCX technical lead and architect. “I saw us go from a single hierarchy to a multi-hierarchy model with managers and things, and back to a flat organization.”

Looking at Venky’s history means looking at the history of CommerceCX.

“Once he came onboard, he just stuck,” says Vinay Toomu, CEO of CommerceCX. “We’ve stuck together for six years.”

If you look at Venky’s experience, you’ll find a little bit of everything: working on client services in the Netherlands, mentoring trainees and new developers in India, and developing products in the US. He’s worked on client projects and internal development and even dipped his toes in consultation. And while these opportunities might look a little all over the place, every one has been a learning opportunity.

Learning has always been part of Venky’s work, both as a developer and as a mentor to new interns or junior developers. Curiosity and a desire to learn and develop are primary motivators for developers. As a senior member of the technical team, Venky often assists with interviews, and Venky says the diversity of experiences at CommerceCX is one of the things that attracts and retains new people.

“Most of the time when I ask, ‘why are you looking to change from your current company?’, most people say, ‘I’m not learning anything new,’” he explains. “And at the end of the day, people should not think ‘what am I learning here?’, ‘What are the things that I’m going to gain?’ It should be the last thing they should worry about.”

Venky says that the culture at CommerceCX encourages learning and growth, particularly through its mentoring efforts. Venky himself has mentored many CCXers at various stages of their technical development, whether they need hands-on instruction or simply a check in.

“Generally, I have a call every month or so to check on how things are going on current projects,” he explains. “If they are on different projects, I see what’s going on, what we can do to make them comfortable.”

According to Forbes, learning and development opportunities are not only attractive to new hires, they improve the company overall. Investing in employees’ personal and professional development increases satisfaction and engenders loyalty, improving their motivation and the effectiveness of their work. CommerceCX tries to promote this learning environment by having fresher employees work on projects alongside senior colleagues, to get real hands-on experience.

“When I started, I was doing a lot of hands-on work,” he says about his shifting roles. “Now it’s a lot of guiding people.”

Venky says the hands-on approach is a big part of how people learn. Having to teach others new things also has the added bonus of keeping him and other technical experts up to date with technology and what’s going on in the tech industry. He especially credits the discussions that happen when a team struggles to solve an issue, either internal or encountered by a client.

“There are certain cases where we don’t know the solution,” he explains. “And we’ll come back and discuss and we’ll debate each other and then we’ll say, ‘this is what we could do’ or ‘this is a better way we could do it.’”

These discussions and exchanges of information help everyone learn and makes the development team more effective, especially in client work. Venky says being able to bring these different perspectives help clients understand both the problems they’re facing and the solution Venky and his team provide.

“Sometimes the cases clients raise, we can solve immediately,” he says, about the results of these exchanges. “And they are happy with those things, that approach.”

Discussion is also the linchpin of CommerceCX’s product development process, on which Venky has had a lot of input. Having years of experience solving problems for clients and developing tools to shore up gaps in other technologies has given him a great deal of insight into the work CommerceCX does—and what the company can achieve.

“I like to work on products and I like to work on services,” he explains. “We are good at services, but there is a lot of competition in that market. If you have a good product, it will stand out.”

Venky enjoys working on products and services and experience has shown him they often go hand in hand. Some products that CommerceCX has developed are based on custom solutions built for specific client projects; like the Pricing Operations Manager, which was originally conceived to help a major organization manage its complicated pricing models. By expanding that initial company-specific framework into a standalone Salesforce application, Venky and his colleagues can help clients overcome the same problems as that first organization in a fraction of the time.

Lately, Venky’s focus has been on QuoteCX, a program co-developed by CommerceCX and its sister company ScaleFluidly. QuoteCX is a quoting tool designed for small-to-medium-sized businesses that struggle to adopt tools like Salesforce CPQ or Conga CPQ, whether due to cost, lack of training, or simply time to implement. Venky sees projects like QuoteCX as a way to pool his and his CCX colleagues’ years of experience into a standalone product that solves problems he has encountered over and over in his years at CommerceCX.

“My take is that services help me know about problems,” Venky says. “If I know the problems, I can implement fixes with a product.”

It’s a cycle of growth: find a problem, understand a problem, fix a problem, learn from it, teach someone new.

Experience grants perspective and extensive experience grants extensive perspective. By seeing the whole picture, long-term employees like Venky can offer suggestions and input that make a major difference in the workplace. One of the most important suggestions is to remember to include all perspectives, whether it be bringing uniting different experiences into one product or including different voices in the discussion about how to resolve problems for a client.

“We look at other people, what they think, what their approach is,” Venky says. “It’s not always about our perspectives; sometimes it’s better to learn from other things also.”

This article is part of our series Stories of CommerceCX, which seeks to collect and record employee experiences into a series of articles exploring their history and growth and how CommerceCX’s investment in goodwill and employees’ quality-of-life leads to positive business results. Read more Stories of CCX here.