Reverse Release Gating

Luke Scott

At a startup, if you have a working/semi working product that is demonstrable (demo-able) the last thing you need is for your product to unexpectedly crash during a demonstration/ sales meeting/ investor meeting.

I was recently talking to a startup founder who was not able to demonstrate key features of the product due to a recent update that had rendered parts of the application inoperable.

Here are a few techniques you can do to ensure that your product is stable enough to always have key workflows be demo-able on demand (from most to least confidence):

  • Staging environment (then test all workflows to be demo-ed prior to rolling out changes to production)
  • Automated end-to-end software tests
  • Have each developer test every major workflow before they release the latest batch of changes (time to do this will grow as your product grows)
  • Feature flags (put new untested features behind a flag and demo only the older, more reliable features)

If you don’t have the resources/ time/ money for the above consider:

Reverse Release Gating

Don’t release untested software into production prior to important product demonstrations. Release only to production when you have both:

  • Time to test out the major workflows before demo-ing your product; and
  • Time to rollback new changes that made your app un-demo-able.

This should help you avoid having your application crash during key demonstrations and let you demo your product with greater confidence.

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