An Insider’s Perspective: Learnings from using our own app

Tracy - TLL article
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As Head of Engineering at Mentorloop, I oversee the people, product, and technology aspects of building our world-class mentoring app. I help direct the roadmap, guide the technology decisions, and coach and mentor the engineering team to make Mentorloop the best app out there for managing mentoring programs.

Outside of that, I am also a co-organizer for Tech Leading Ladies – a community of women-identifying and non-binary members who work in software development and technology roles with the goal of bridging the gender gap in tech leadership. At Tech Leading Ladies (TLL), we use Mentorloop to offer our mentoring program to the people in our community, and I am the Program Coordinator (PC) for this program.

These two roles put me in a unique position of experiencing Mentorloop from two angles. As a mentoring program coordinator, I gain firsthand insight into the usability, effectiveness, and real-world impact Mentorloop has on facilitating mentorship connections and fostering community engagement. As an engineer, I intimately understand the intricacies of the codebase, the design decisions behind its architecture, and the technical challenges we face in optimizing its performance and scalability. 

This unique vantage point affords me a comprehensive understanding of how our software functions in practice, enabling me to identify areas for improvement, anticipate user needs, and drive innovation from both sides of the development process.

In this article, I’d like to share what that experience is like and how this unique insight allows me to do my job in a way that better serves our customers. 

Managing the TLL Mentoring Program

In November 2022, I joined Tech Leading Ladies as a co-organizer of the group and took on the role of Mentorloop Program Coordinator. At the time, the program had about 20 participants. As a new program coordinator, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of how to market the mentoring program or build momentum around it to help our community members who were eager for mentoring opportunities.

So we went with a straightforward approach. In our TLL 2023 kickoff meetup, we raised awareness for all of the programs that we offer, which included our mentoring program, leadership training, and our Next Gig program, among others. To build awareness and momentum of the mentoring program, I also did a hands-on walkthrough of the signup process with meetup participants following along, and the following week we matched up all participants who had joined the program. This set us up for a great relaunch of our mentoring program. Throughout the rest of 2023, we received more participation in the program, and we just successfully relaunched again in February 2024.

I’m proud to share that our program’s Mentoring Quality Score (MQS) has consistently been above 4.5, and I am humbled and amazed at the feedback we have received from participants. It’s been great to hear that many of them have had great success in their mentoring relationships. And while hearing the success stories is great, I still keep an eye on the program’s Sentiment on Mentorloop as it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of my program and intervene if and when participants may need my help. I also frequently message participants individually or in bulk when trying to make new connections or when there are upcoming events for the program – just to keep engagement up

Feedback into features

As users provide feedback on their interactions with Mentorloop—highlighting pain points, suggesting improvements, and sharing success stories—we, as engineers, gain invaluable insights into the real-world usage of our software.  By having the opportunity to use Mentorloop as a program coordinator, I am better able to contextualize this feedback whether it’s from participants from my program or not. 

For example, we often have customers who want to relaunch their mentoring program, perhaps to give opportunities to a new cohort of participants or to add momentum to their always-on programs. Having done this twice now for Tech Leading Ladies, I have a really good understanding of the different ways of doing this along with the pros and cons of each. This allows me to better appreciate the limitations of the application in this area, giving me a new perspective on the possible solutions we could implement within Mentorloop.

We were also often asked for a feature that would allow a participant (mentor or mentee) to specify their maximum number of matches. From the product and engineering side, there were many competing priorities fighting for first place. But being a PC, I could see how valuable this feature was for my own program, and the numerous demands from our customers helped elevate this feature to the top of the list. This feature was launched at the end of 2023.

Using these insights to shape the roadmap

By actively engaging with Mentorloop as both an engineer and a user, I have the opportunity to use customer feedback, insights, and experiences to directly inform our development priorities and shape the platform’s evolution. This feedback loop not only informs our decision-making process but also inspires us to push the boundaries of innovation in seeking creative solutions to address user needs and enhance the overall user experience. 

Also, in using Mentorloop as a PC, I sometimes come across routine tasks that are not as easy to achieve as we expect or would like them to be. Feeling these challenges first-hand helps me to better prioritize enhancements for these tasks to make it even easier for our customers’ program coordinators to manage their mentoring programs.

“Eating our own dog food” makes us better

Being in a position to see Mentorloop from both sides, as an engineer and user, allows me to offer invaluable insights into Mentorloop’s functionality and impact in the real world. I often share my experiences as a program coordinator with our product, engineering, and customer success teams, ensuring that the entire Mentorloop team has the opportunity to learn from my experiences and find new and exciting ways to improve Mentorloop for all of our customers.

Our ongoing development efforts, driven by a deep understanding of user requirements and preferences, deliver new features, enhancements, and optimizations that further elevate the usability, functionality, and value proposition of Mentorloop. This iterative cycle of feedback, development, and refinement fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, ensuring that Mentorloop remains at the forefront of empowering mentoring relationships and fostering community connections.

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Tracy Bongiorno
Tracy Bongiorno
Head of Engineering at Mentorloop - passionate about building delightful, high quality software to make mentoring better, more scalable, and more accessible. She also enjoys watching TV & movies, playing board games, and snowboarding. 🏂

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