How DebtBook Ships 6x Faster with Release

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Customer profile
Company size
Financial Services
North Carolina, USA
Development Velocity

6x improvement in development velocity

Developer Experience

100% adoption of ephemeral environments

Lean Operations

Focusing engineering efforts on the core product

Shipping features and gathering feedback took DebtBook too long, making engineers context switch, instead of focusing on timely issues customers cared about. By implementing Release, DebtBook accelerated development velocity six times, shortened feedback loops, and brought customers closer to the product-building cycle, while improving the overall developer experience.

DebtBook tackles complex accounting and reporting challenges for public sector finance teams. They handle debt, lease, subscription management, and compliance reporting to ensure taxpayers’ funds are spent wisely and transparently. With just over 200 employees distributed throughout the United States, DebtBook serves more than 2,000 customers in government, higher education, and healthcare sectors.

Slowed Down by Complexity

DebtBook’s customers operate in a highly regulated, constantly evolving environment that demands not just compliance but efficiency and transparency in managing taxpayer funds. This drives DebtBook to deliver a safe, secure, and robust set of tools with little room for error. To meet the complex and high standard, DebtBook implemented a rigorous software development process that inevitably became long and burdensome.

Complex shared environments forced developers to move their individual code changes through multiple stages and multiple shared environments for validation and confidence building. The process was slow, frustrating, and prone to error, which caused re-work and additional toil. On average it took 40 days to release changes and new features, well over the desired timeline.

The feedback also trickled slowly. Developers got relevant product and customer feedback weeks or months after they finished working on a specific feature. This made them context-switch to an old issue and lose momentum on current tasks.

“Our shared environments setup was too slow and cumbersome to accommodate timely feedback. We knew we could ease these frustrations, shorten the feedback loop and speed up our deployment process, with the right tools,” said Michael Gorsuch, Director of Infrastructure for DebtBook.

DebtBook needed an ephemeral environments platform to remove the shared environments bottlenecks, shorten the feedback loops and improve developer experience.

Find the Right Fit

DebtBook maintains leverage and delivers a differentiated product in the market, by remaining lean, and focusing their engineering efforts on the core product. Their infrastructure team helps engineering win, by delivering a set of capabilities for moving faster, more securely, and with less friction. So when deciding on ephemeral environments solutions, they quickly rejected the build option as it would take too long, cost too much, and would divert attention from more important tasks.

“On the infrastructure side, the more we have to build ourselves, the more it weighs us down. So you have to be careful about what you build vs. what you buy,” shared Gorsuch.

The team evaluated potential partners with a goal of building a working prototype within a week, finding Release to be the most flexible, customizable, and extendable among the options.

“Release proof of concept worked end-to-end on the first day, giving us another boost of confidence in the product,” said Gorsuch.

Accelerate Software Delivery with Release

Engineers quickly adopted Release and continue to provide positive feedback on improved focus and velocity. Within a month Release was incorporated into all major development workflows, speeding up processes and removing frustration.

“Onboarding with Release was a truly collaborative experience, allowing us to fine tune the product and improve our process, making both work together smoothly,” said Gorsuch.

Commit-to-customer cycle that used to take well over a month is now completed in under a week. Now developers spin up a near-production environment in minutes, instantly share their work-in-progress with product and peers, get relevant feedback, and release features quicker than ever before. Velocity improved six times and is continuing to improve with ongoing refinement.

An unexpected aspect of implementing Release was a culture shift that followed. Reducing friction and context-switching allowed engineers to focus more intentionally on the features they were building. So instead of perfecting the code early on they now drill in into the “why” behind each line and iterate on feedback early and often. This creates features that truly align with the needs of the customer and gives engineers the momentum to take the product to the next level.

“Release allows the right feedback to come early, so everyone s getting excited, they start to interact with the feature, they can t wait for it to get out there, to get it right for the customer. And then the team helps get the code right. That s how we work now.” said Gorsuch.

Release became an integral part of the development workflow at DebtBook, accelerating new feature development, shortening feedback loops, and improving developers' experience. All while maintaining a lean infrastructure team and optimizing internal resources to focus on the core product.

Faster, Leaner, and more Collaborative Releases

DebtBook, who delivers sophisticated digital products to internal and external customers in the cloud, is on a mission to improve operations in three key areas: Development Velocity, Developer Experience, and Lean Operations.

Implementing Release helped them achieved the following outcomes:

Development Velocity -> 6x improvement in development velocity. Went from shipping new features less than once a month to releasing new functionality multiple times a week, continuously improving to move faster.

Developer Experience -> 100% adoption of ephemeral environments. Shifted feedback earlier in the process, allowing engineers to collaborate and share ideas freely, and get features in the hands of customers faster.

Lean operations -> Focusing engineering efforts on the core product. Leveraging resources of a small infrastructure team to deliver key functionality that help the engineering team win.

“With Release we're getting a scalable and sustainable environments platform with a far better experience than we had before. It changes everything for us.” said the Director of Infrastructure

Consistent Improvement

Implementing the Release ephemeral environments platform is just the beginning of the productive partnership between Release and DebtBook. As old roadblocks are removed, and the quality of collaboration increases, new opportunities for improvement come up, and Release is ready for it.

“Working with Release is like working with a trusted partner and an extension of our team. I know we’re in it together and will continue to build great products together.” summed up Gorsuch

About Release

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