Thumbtack

With Gearset, we’re able to coordinate with the business on more strict deployment deadlines even for large projects.

Jesse Fusselman | Manager of Business Applications | Thumbtack
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Thumbtack unlocked rapid business value with a smooth pipeline

Overview

For over 8 years, Salesforce has been the hub of Thumbtack’s sales and service teams, managing business-critical data for their 800 end users. Their Business Application Admin team of six admins is constantly updating their business automation to increase efficiencies and achieve their KPIs. The admin team also partners closely with two developers and an architect, who work on programmatic changes like custom Apex code.

The admin team were initially using change sets for deployments, but as Manager of Business Applications Jesse Fusselman highlighted, “there are limitations to change sets — it’s really slow. Anyone who’s used change sets understands the pain.” This led Thumbtack to begin using Copado, with the hope this would speed up their deployments and keep their development sandboxes in sync with production.

Slow deployments were holding Thumbtack back

Thumbtack separates their Salesforce environment into three development streams — sales, customer support, and infrastructure. They implemented Copado to improve their deployment speed across all three streams but found that it took 15 minutes to move from one environment to another, which created a slow release process that took over an hour when they were moving through multiple environments.

The team also found they had poor deployment accuracy and it was a real challenge to unpick problems, as error messages weren’t helpful in indicating issues such as missed dependencies in their deployment. Jesse said “we hit enough of these errors that it was painful to deploy things into production with Copado.”

Thumbtack then introduced version control in the hope this would keep their environments in sync. However, they found that there were flaws that wouldn’t keep environments up to date, leading to merge conflicts that created further blockers to their release process and collaboration across streams.

This was especially frustrating as the Salesforce team weren’t able to deliver projects within scope, which hindered team satisfaction as “you’ve done all the actual designing and building work but you can’t even get it into production. It could be a delay of over a day on projects with a tight deadline, and you get frustrated really fast.”

Jesse also highlighted that this had knock-on effects for the wider business, as it was hard to estimate just how long delays would be when failed deployments and release blockers were unpredictable. This made their business-critical Salesforce development work less reliable for the wider business. After a year and half with Copado, Thumbtack were ready for a change.

The search for a smooth release process

Jesse, alongside an admin and developer, began to search for a DevOps platform that could solve these pain points. A member of their team had used Gearset previously, and Jesse found the Gearset demo immediately impressive.

Thumbtack were also impressed by how quickly Gearset could be implemented. It had taken them two months to implement Copado, but Gearset was fully functional with version control and JIRA integrations in two weeks, which convinced Thumbtack to make the switch. 

Jesse was pleased with the support from Gearset’s dedicated onboarding team and their customer success manager.

“We had the freedom to customize the implementation ourselves but also to have support from Gearset. The training for our agents implementing Gearset was really strong as well as for the wider team — it was really smooth.”

This was a real contrast to the support that Jesse had previously received: “If you’re having a deployment issue, you don’t want to have to wait two days for someone to be able to figure out what’s going on. You don’t even want to have to wait a couple hours to get a response to your case or your support request.”

With a successful implementation complete, Thumbtack quickly opted to introduce CI/CD Pipelines with Gearset to keep their environments in sync and support the rapid deployment process they were already using.

CI/CD Pipelines deliver rapid business value

Thumbtack can now rapidly deploy through their CI/CD pipeline with the confidence that all their environments — even upstream — are in sync, saving time with sandbox refreshes. Jesse highlighted “Pipelines allow different people to work on the same Salesforce metadata without overwriting each other’s work. It allows each team to operate independently while keeping orgs in sync.”

Critically, deployments take only 5 minutes all the way from sandbox to production, which is “a huge improvement over what was happening with Copado.”

Having a senior admin get stuck with a deployment is a waste of very very valuable time. Being able to unlock that time across a team of 6 people is very big!

Jesse estimates that the time savings from unblocked deployments is equivalent to the contributions a junior admin would make to the team. With these time savings, Thumbtack is now able to run continuous deployments and release to production 4–5 times a week.

The impact on the wider business has been huge. The Business Application team smoothly coordinates with the business on strict deployment deadlines and the accuracy of their pipeline means updates hit the ground running when they’re deployed for their end users.

“With Gearset, we’re able to coordinate with the business on more strict deployment deadlines even for large projects. We can now give end users a rigid expectation of when changes will be released into production.”

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