Hi everyone! You may not know me yet, but I’m hoping you will soon. I’m Steve, and I’m Chief Operations and Technology Officer at giffgaff, which basically means I look after our fantastic Operations and Technology teams at the gaff.
In the year or so since I joined giffgaff our product teams have released a whole host of new stuff, from simple optimisations like auto-generating member names on registration to whole new features like the extra 1GB on goodybags and Dashboard Light. It’s been exciting to be a part of, though it’s just the tip of our ambition. Last month we embarked on a project that I think is going to be really important for the future. At the moment it’s all a little bit behind-the-scenes, so I wanted to bring it a bit more into the spotlight for you all.
The short version: we’re going to be improving how our product teams work - continuously releasing changes to our software as we make them. You’ll have access to new features and fixes as soon as they’re coded and have a chance to tell us what you think much more quickly.
Some of you may know we currently we work in 2 week bursts of development, called “sprints”. At the end of every 2 weeks we collate all our changes together and release them. As we make lots of changes every sprint, each release involves loads of testing, and usually a bunch of people coming in very early in the morning (4am!) to actually do the release - it’s quite painful and lots of effort.
The good news - we can streamline this. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, you may be aware of the concept of continuous integration and continuous deployment; for those that aren’t, the basic idea is that by automating all the testing and deployment we can release our code whenever we want - as soon as it’s ready. We’ve already made a start, and in fact we did a release on Friday at 10.30am. Hopefully, you didn’t notice any issues - and that’s kind of the point.
This is a goal that a lot of tech companies have been trying to get to, because it allows features and changes to make their way to being used that much quicker and ultimately allows us to create better software because we get to hear your feedback as soon as we’ve coded something.
In order to get to that point, we need to take some time to change things around, get to grips with new tools, reorganise and get ready. It means that for the next few months, you might notice a little less change on the giffgaff front, so bear with us if it feels a bit like things aren’t moving at the usual pace. A few months into the new year, we’ll be able to show you how powerful this change can be. I’m really excited about it, and I’ll share our progress as we get closer to that goal.
Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll pop back in soon to answer as many as I can in the next few days.