Hi everyone, here’s a quick look at what we accomplished over the last three months of 2015 and a preview of what we’re working on next.
This last quarter was all about laying the foundation for future growth and product stability. As our customer base grows, the load placed on ASAP grows as well. While this isn’t an issue at the moment, we could see that if we continued to grow at this pace, eventually it will affect the performance of our product.
Rather than wait until that day came we decided to put our other work on hold for a few months to focus on the kinds of foundational projects that will make the product both faster and more stable no matter how many people are using it. These projects included optimizing our product’s software, installing new hardware for it to run on, changing the way our developers interact with the product, and making a few key hires in our engineering department.
First we focused on optimizing our software through the use of a new tool that helped us identify bottlenecks in our code. While we’re not done yet the results so far have been amazing: our product is running much more quickly than at the same time last year even though we have many more customers now than we did at that time.
Next we invested in a number of new, modern servers that are literally being installed as I write this. The new machines are ridiculously fast and once they go live sometime in February you should really feel the difference.
Lastly we contracted with an outside consulting firm to help us optimize how our software and hardware interact (that’s going on now as well). I won’t pretend that I have any idea as to what they do exactly but apparently it’s going to take us to the next level in terms of speed and stability and I like that.
A Change In How We Work
Too frequently last year we heard from customers who reported that an issue that had once been fixed had re-appeared again. This was as frustrating to us as it was to them, so we spent a lot of time last quarter looking for the cause. As it turns out, the problem was in how we were adding new code to the product. In short, our workflow contained at least the possibility that one developer could overwrite another developer’s code, meaning a developer could release some new code that would fix one problem but re-introduce an old one.
To plug this hole we have joined Google, Facebook, and every other big online company that matters and switched to a new software deployment process called Continuous Delivery. Trust me, you really don’t want to know how it works except that it’s designed to prevent the overwriting of code and that it allows us to to release fixes and improvements more quickly.
This change might sound like a small thing but it took our team several months to get up-and-running, and in combination with the performance improvements I mentioned previously it’ll allow us to move forward much more quickly than before, and without rocking the boat while we do it.
We made a number of new hires this last quarter but the two I want to call out are Alejandro Rosales and Jeffrey Wilde, both of whom are joining our engineering team. Alejandro was working as a contractor for us out of Cancun, and he was so good (like so so good) we had no choice but to bring him on full-time. I secretly believe that Alex is a pseudonym for a room full of people who are all working together because it’s the only way to explain how quickly he works, but whatever the situation is we’re thrilled to have him with us.
Jeffrey Wilde is our new vice-president of engineering and is a real get for us. He has years and years of experience working for companies like Microsoft and others, he’s crazy smart and he works incredibly hard. He and Alex bring some serious senior-level chops to ASAP which is exactly what we need at this point in time.
Now that we’ve laid the foundation for future growth we’re turning our attention to improving some of our most used features. First we’re completely rebuilding our invoice page, which will launch with a new user-friendly design and new features sometime next month. We’ve also begun projects to create a mobile-friendly version of our online registration site, to improve our instructor availability feature, and to allow students and parents to submit donations during the online registration process. We’ll announce the launch of these projects and many more over the next quarter as they happen.
That’s it for now, thanks for using ASAP and we’ll see you in another three months.