ClassPass connects users with over 35,000 fitness and wellness providers across 30 countries worldwide. Through the platform, users can book studio classes, gym sessions, at-home workouts, spa treatments and more. Mobile is central to that experience: after month one, customers are almost exclusively using ClassPass’ iOS and Android apps to book classes, and even initial onboarding is increasingly happening via the apps. With so many users and such an emphasis on the mobile product, releasing app updates is a high-stakes exercise at ClassPass.
Despite having made big strides over the past couple of years improving a very ad hoc release process, the ClassPass mobile team found that there was still lots of wasted time and overhead through their release cycles. With weekly releases across iOS and Android, and with a growing and increasingly decentralized team, the cost of “just okay” releases really added up. And, onboarding new team members and getting them confident enough to run releases themselves took a lot of effort.
“There was lots of fragmentation and context switching: making sure marketing has given us the right media, making sure QA knows when it’s their turn to step up to the plate to run regression testing, and communicating with PMs.”
Time spent shepherding releases was time not spent building product and delivering value. Whichever mobile engineer was on-call as release manager would have a five-point story added to their work for the sprint. They would spend a chunk of their week just managing the release: context-switching between GitHub, Jira, Jenkins, Slack, the App Store and Play Console, to make sure work going into the release was good to go, to ensure builds quickly got into QA’s hands, and to coordinate between engineers, PMs, and other stakeholders throughout.
The team also lacked a single source of truth to consult for release progress and readiness and, as a result, it was difficult to move seamlessly from step to step. There was unnecessary lag and a lack of transparency at key handover points. For example, going from a new Release Candidate build becoming available to getting it in QA’s hands and regression testing started. Or getting a testing outcome from QA in front of PMs and engineers for triaging.
The ClassPass team had the releases problem area on their radar for a while, but each of the solutions they considered had drawbacks. Building out internal tooling would be a big resource drain, and would require continuous upkeep. Adding headcount for dedicated release managers might add bandwidth, but didn’t align with the team’s desire to stay close to the process so that it would continue being informed by and reflective of their real-world needs.
In Runway, ClassPass’ team found a solution that seamlessly integrated with their existing tools and workflow, pulling everything into one place. Understanding progress and coordinating between team members is now a matter of checking one browser tab instead of ten, as well as being proactively notified in Slack of major milestones and any blockers during the release cycle. Runway’s clearly laid out timeline and traffic light system makes moving across handover points much more straightforward.
“Now when we’re preparing a release, all the tools we used to refer to are reduced to a single dashboard, and Runway’s automatic notifications let everyone know when it’s their turn to act.”
Runway also serves as the team’s new release process knowledge base, where ClassPass-specific tasks and notes are recorded and reviewed directly alongside the overall release cadence. This ensures that nothing gets lost in translation while switching between a spreadsheet of to-dos and status checks.
The five-point stories assigned to release managers each sprint are no more. Team members across disciplines have noticed how much tighter release cycles are, both in terms of time saved offloading rote tasks to Runway’s automation, and in eliminating confusion and lag at handover points. Release managers are more confident running releases, especially in pressure situations like hotfixes.
Onboarding new team members and getting them comfortable with release duties has been a breeze. Even newcomers with less mobile-specific experience have been able to jump in and quarterback releases with little hand-holding or oversight.
“With Runway, there’s less confusion and we visibly spend less time on releases. Our engineers tell me their load during sprints in the release manager role has shrunk.”