The challenge: Difficult deployments using manual processes
C2FO brings buyers and suppliers together to accelerate payments of approved invoices. Its easy-to-use and secure platform works as a collaborative marketplace where users can view credit availability in real-time, request and make early payments for invoices and optimize their cash flow.
C2FO started using Salesforce a few years ago - a switch that brought dramatic improvements over inputting each buyer's long list of suppliers into spreadsheets. We spoke to Corinne Walker, Salesforce Engineering Manager at C2FO, about her experience of building on the platform with her team of 3 admins and 2 developers.
A painfully manual process
Initially, Corinne's team used Salesforce's native change sets tooling to deploy work from their sandbox org to production, but its limitations soon became clear. "The biggest challenge with change sets is successfully deploying components," says Corinne. This is a common experience - about 50% of deployments with change sets fail on the first attempt.
"On top of that," Corinne continues, "change sets don't support every metadata type, so we had to recreate some types in production manually. Then we'd go back and run more deployments for any changes we'd missed." All of these problems meant that deployments with changes sets were unbearably slow, as Corinne recounts:
"Our team would take 3 hours to do a deployment. It was extremely painful! On every deployment, we'd have to get together and say: Who's adding this component to their change set? Who's going to go first because my component will fail if you don't go first? And so on."
Despite this huge collaborative effort, deployments were still prone to failure. Corinne knew that the team needed to switch tools and processes in order to fix their release process.
The solution: A DevOps solution to accelerate releases and support version control
The C2FO team also had version control on their radar, as they wanted to improve collaboration and introduce code reviews to their process. They needed a solution that would both improve their existing deployment process and support process improvements such as adding version control: "We needed to build our release process, and we also needed version control - so we were looking for a solution that could do it all." These requirements led Corinne's team to Gearset.
First impressions: intuitive and quick to learn
When looking at different tools, ease of use was Corinne's main priority. When she tested out Gearset, she was very impressed with its intuitive user interface and with how quick it was compared to the other options: "Gearset is really slick!"
"The ease of use just blew me away - it's so intuitive! Whenever I click on anything, I know exactly what's going to happen."
As well as ease of use, another must-have for the C2FO team was a solution with a short ramp-up time, so they could get started quickly and begin to work faster. Corinne explains how Gearset fit the bill when it was introduced to her team, and was effortless to get to grips with: "It was very easy, very smooth and took very little effort. The team had a 30-minute demo of the Gearset app, and then they were good to go!"
Included in this ramp-up time was the adoption of version control - deployments to a Git branch in Gearset follow the same process as any deployment between two environments. Corinne's developers now deploy their Apex code to a Git repo and review each other's pull requests.
Faster deployments and increased productivity
The team's deployments are now 9x faster with Gearset than when they used change sets: "Our deployments now take just 15 to 20 minutes for the whole team!" Corinne points out that this dramatic improvement has opened the door for the team to increase the frequency of their releases beyond the biweekly cadence they're hitting already.
"With Gearset, our deployments are so fast that we have the option to increase our release cadence. We have completed user stories just sitting there ready for deployment and you think: why not just deliver it to the business sooner?"
Where their productivity had previously been limited by change sets and the time spent on deployments, Corinne's team now has the capacity to spend more time on development work. "We're able to get more stories pushed through - I'm confident in giving my team one or two more stories because they have that extra time." But as Corinne points out, there's also just the quality-of-life improvement for her admins and developers.
"The time saved on deployments also keeps our minds fresh and spirits up!"
The verdict: An effective Salesforce DevOps process with proven ROI
To establish the business case for switching to Gearset, Corinne produced a spreadsheet comparing the time spent using change sets and Gearset. She separated out the ROI for dev and admin time saved, and looked at four time-buckets: preparation time, deployment time, rollback time and post-deployment maintenance. Based on those calculations, Corinne was able to demonstrate the ROI of purchasing Gearset licenses.
Gearset has been a huge upgrade for the C2FO team, and they can see the tangible benefits of improving their release process. With deployments now 9x faster than before, a much higher deployment success rate, plus the introduction of version control, Corinne believes all teams and businesses stand to gain from using Gearset for deployments and building out a DevOps process:
"I would highly recommend using Gearset because it's so efficient. If you're stuck in the old change set process, you're missing out. Run through the Gearset trial and you'll definitely see for yourself that there's a huge benefit in going the Gearset way!"