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“With Gearset, we have accelerated our software releases. This has freed up valuable time for our devs, admins and release manager. Now with releases I can easily see in real time whether something went as planned or failed. The increased visibility is beneficial for me, and I can clearly check that our code is stable.”

Ken Cooper | Senior Director of System Architecture | The Leading Hotels of the World

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Reaching DevOps maturity with Gearset

Overview:

The Leading Hotels of the World started using Gearset in 2018 after struggling to keep all their Salesforce orgs in a happy and sync’d state. Since then, LHW has seen a huge positive impact on the team and wider business. They’ve just added Gearset’s backup solution to their DevOps toolbox, which shows LHW are taking their data and metadata seriously and have decided to pursue DevOps maturity.

LHW are anything but ordinary and are currently using most of the Salesforce clouds on offer to run their complex network of hotels. The most recent addition has been the inclusion of Service Cloud to help with reservations - something that needs to work seamlessly for such a prestigious hotel brand.

We spoke to Ken Cooper, Senior Director of System Architecture at LHW about the company’s ongoing journey to reach Salesforce DevOps maturity. There are currently around 180 standard Salesforce end users and 800+ community members. In terms of building on Salesforce, the average team size is around 4 developers, one in-house and some outsourced.

Struggling with big drifts between environments

Before Gearset, LHW didn’t have any helpful deployment tools in place and struggled to get change sets to work for them. This inevitably stopped being a viable option as they began to release more frequently.

We used to patch things up by hand and try to deploy it by using change sets - at first it was alright, but as our portfolio began to grow and we developed functionality, it was more cumbersome, Ken explains.

“We started to notice a huge amount of configurational drifts between the environments which would take weeks to fix at a time.”

Out of date, stagnant environments

In an ideal world, Salesforce orgs should always be in sync with each other. Before switching to Gearset, LHW’s biggest challenge came around twice a year when the company synced their orgs. It was frustrating and took us weeks to actually go through and get the orgs straightened out, Ken explains. There were literally hundreds of objects that were out of sync because the environments had been left to go stagnant.

In Salesforce things can easily get out of sync and Ken explained that without the right processes and tools in place, his team started to feel pushed to the limit.

“Because syncing our orgs was such a big job, we opted to do it sparingly. We’d be lucky to do it twice a year. Every time we did sync them, it would take us almost two weeks or a whole sprint to move the data and metadata around. And then we’d repeat the same process 6 months later.”

The search for something transformative

After reaching crunch point, Ken and his team started to look for another way to keep on top of the orgs while saving time and money. They were recommended Gearset by a consultant developer and started a free trial.

What stood out immediately to the team was Gearset’s simple and well thought-out UI. Ken said that the comparison feature is just amazing and gives him and the team so much visibility into the code, especially being able to see if there appears to be any drift between environments, the issue that caused so many headaches pre-Gearset. No more 2 week fixes and missing entire sprints.

Thanks to Gearset’s monitoring tool, the LHW team are instantly alerted to any rogue code changes in production.

“I love everything. The UI is intuitive and we didn’t need extensive training at all. We onboarded in about an hour.”

Visibility is an important aspect in any DevOps workflow. Since implementing Gearset, Ken and the team at LHW now have a clear and concise overview of their entire DevOps process. Gearset has excellent integrations with development and project management tools like GitHub and Jira - which we use to accelerate our DevOps by using CI that’s integrated with our GitHub repo.

“We also increased the traceability of deployments by integrating Jira with Gearset so we know why, when, and what was deployed with each release throughout our development pipeline.”

3x more releases a week

Ken and his team have used Gearset’s continuous integration to supercharge their release frequency. Building automation into their pipeline means that releases are being deployed from the UAT environment, giving time back to the release engineer. LHW has gone from releasing on Salesforce 3 times a week, to about 10 times. These productivity improvements have already produced a 20% return on investment.

“It becomes unsustainable for one person to manage multiple releases a day. Implementing continuous integration saves our developers and QA around 2 or 3 days each, per week!”

Big plans for the future

Ken has some really big plans for the future, which all lead to reaching full DevOps maturity. One thing on his DevOps wishlist is to implement static code analysis which would allow the team to see whether the code is documented properly. We work with a lot of external parties and even if you give them a lot of information or specs for how you would like the code, it’s not always feasible.

LHW have transformed their release process for Salesforce, maturing into DevOps and delivering tangible business results. I would definitely recommend Gearset, concludes Ken. It’s been a huge benefit.

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