Why We Release Alumni Updates Every Two Weeks!

by Community Admin in Corporate Alumni   |    Last Edited: 03rd June 2019

As an organization, we like to release often and are a fan of continuous delivery with the goal of releasing every two weeks. Often our customers are keen to understand our release cycle and look for insights into how we release and test our application to millions of users around the world.

Customers and their Alumni communities are never impacted by a release, there is no downtime or other maintenance windows and to the end user nothing has changed.

Customers know what is coming each week through the release notes manager providing insight into the new features/functions/upgrades/fixes addressed in each two week cycle.

It is important for customers to understand how we engineer and release to ensure we are always setting the right expectations and providing transparency into our process.

Alumni Updates: Continuous Delivery

EnterpriseAlumni engages in a software engineering concept know as CD, this means that our engineering teams release new updates in very short cycles. Our software is always release ready, meaning it is sufficiently stable and tested to work flawlessly for our user base.

CD takes this one step further, that the process to deliver our updates to our customers is a fully automated system “from engineer to end user” which by design is a process that delivers greater software with fewer bugs and short cycle allows greater focus and collaboration.

Addressing & Resolving Bugs

The CD system is also critical because every piece of software on earth has bugs, but we recognize that even if that bug impacts a tiny % of our user base (knows as an edge case) then we are still talking about a fairly large number of potentially impacted users.

By using continuous delivery it enables our organization to fix and release the fix in a matter of hours or days primarily because of the focus to two-week release cycles. If a bug is introduced in our most recent release, our engineers only have to explore and “debug” two weeks worth of code and they know exactly what they worked on.

Focusing On the Alumni Experience

Given our engineering team is able to resolve and spend less time on bugs, it allows them to focus the two weeks on certain themes and topics – enabling our entire team to engage, solve and release a big feature in a very short amount of time.

Delivering that feature rapidly also allows us to get feedback from our customers and their Alumni, we are able to see the usage, understand the value and recognize where we might need to iterate, adjust or even where we could expand on the feature to make it better. Customer feedback is critical to our product and the quicker we can gather that feedback the better.

This focus also means our entire team is aligned to what is being worked on, what is needed, how we need to communicate it and most importantly the goals – so rapid release schedules foster and develop increased collaboration across the various teams ensuring everyone knows what is happening and when.

Alumni Testing & More Testing

The EnterpriseAlumni application has to work on all devices, all screen sizes, all languages, all browsers and we have to take into account all the edge cases and scenarios of our Alumni population globally. Unlike a company where everyone has the same laptop and uses Internet Explorer, in the wild – anything goes!

Our dedicated testing team focuses on breaking the testing process into 5 components:

  • Automated Testing: All code coming into the application is tested on the fly against a series of automated functional tests as well as security (vulnerability) tests providing rapid feedback to the engineers on any feedback.
  • Acceptance Testing: All finished functionality before it is pushed out to our customer base is testing by humans against the intent of the feature, usability, experience and also across a number of browsers and devices.
  • SandBox Testing: All functionality is released into our sandbox application that resembles our customer’s production applications also allowing customers an early look at what’s coming.
  • Beta Release: Not all features go to all customers out the gate, in some instances we can trickle the release to certain customers first to use against a segment of their Alumni population. This is almost always the case for a customer-driven feature.
  • In The Wild Responses: If a user finds a bug or an issue the issue gets escalated into our QA team for analysis and understanding. The primary focus is on releasing the fix and also identifying any adjustments that need to be made to our development or testing process.

Mission Accomplished: Happier Community

The net result of utilizing CD based approach is the ability to move quickly, deliver faster with less bugs but also the ability that when an issue does arise, our organization is ready and has a process to manage the event to resolution in a timely manner.

We love our approach to solution engineering but even more, we love delighting our customers twice a month with functionality to make their lives easier and the engagement of their Alumni stronger.