Achieving Continuous Delivery with Feature Management

How Troops enabled their teams to iterate faster and release multiple features with feature flags.

Troops

Troops Overview

Increase release velocity by 18x

Increase release velocity by 18x

Troops helps teams improve real-time visibility and collaboration around their most important deals by creating real-time feeds of everything happening in the buyer’s journey right in Slack so that everyone can swarm around opportunities. Troops also helps teams forecast more effectively, pull Salesforce data and configure reports, automate key tasks, and communicate deal wins. Founded in 2015 by Dan Reich, Greg Ratner, Scott Britton, Troops is based in New York.

Troops Timeline

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Challenge

When the engineering team consisted of three people, the process for releasing new features was quick and simple. Team members would manually ship features as they were ready. But as the team grew, processes became more complex. The team set up a cadence of releasing new features on a weekly basis. One team member would be assigned as the point person—they would review all code changes made in the past week and coordinate with the rest of the team to make sure everything was ready to ship.

Though the team had increased its human power, leadership felt they weren’t seeing the increase in productivity they needed. With eight people working on eight different things at a time, not everyone was ready to ship at the same time and delays became commonplace. The CTO needed a solution that would help his team be more efficient and ship faster.

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Solution

With more work streams going on at the same time, the Engineering team needed the ability to release multiple features at a time, ship things in a partial state, and ultimately ship faster without breaking the customer experience. They recognized feature flagging was a natural solution. The only question, was whether to build a system themselves or implement a solution from a 3rd party vendor.

With their small team and limited resources, they decided it would be more effective to leverage a 3rd party service. This would allow their team to focus on building Troops, rather than building and maintaining an internal feature flagging system.

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Results

Since implementing LaunchDarkly, Troops has increased the number of releases per month from 8 to 150—an 18x increase, blowing past their goal of 80 releases per month. Greg Ratner, CTO commented, “LaunchDarkly unblocked a major bottleneck and allowed us to move forward with a continuous delivery process. Because of the speed that we achieved, we doubled that goal organically.” With LaunchDarkly each developer ships and tests their work throughout the day. If they release something and notice an issue, it's very easy to diagnose and turn it off if necessary. The team has found that even if they do multiple releases, it's still very easy to turn a feature off and ‘roll back’ to a stable release point without losing functionality.

In addition to helping the team stabilize the release process, LaunchDarkly has also helped improve overall morale. The team no longer assigns a single person to manage weekly releases—now everyone simply ships code when complete and can turn on features when ready. They have eliminated that role completely from their release process and recovered one engineer day's worth of time each week. Managing weekly releases before LaunchDarkly was time consuming, stressful, and overall a thankless effort—now everyone can focus on their own projects.

Our engineering team is a lot more invested. Also, since other teams see things flowing through the pipes a lot quicker, trust and reliance on engineering has improved. We can easily trace how features progress from conception to design through engineering. It’s awesome to see incremental updates every week.

Greg Ratner

Co-Founder & CTO

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