How LifeOmic uses Runway to help achieve Continuous Deployment.

company
LifeOmic leverages the cloud, machine learning and mobile devices to offer disruptive solutions to healthcare providers, researchers, employers, health coaches, health IT companies and individuals.
headquarters
Indianapolis, USA
industry
Healthcare Software
Mobile Team Size
15
Platforms
iOS (React Native + Swift), Android (React Native + Kotlin)
Release Frequency
Weekly
Integrations
GitHub, Jira, Bitrise

LifeOmic's first-of-its-kind precision health and wellness platform covers the entire healthcare continuum — from prevention and wellbeing, to diagnosis and treatment of complex diseases. The scope of the platform allows it to provide a range of unique solutions to a huge audience spanning individuals, healthcare providers, research institutes, pharmaceutical companies, and employers of all sizes.

To support the breadth and depth of LifeOmic’s platform, their product range likewise encompasses a full spectrum: consumer-facing mobile apps, corporate and individual wellness programs, an educational content platform, telemedicine, and a wealth of clinical products —– and, powering all of this, a revolutionary data and analytics engine.

Mobile in particular has proven to be a critical channel for LifeOmic, representing a large majority of their users, and about 1/3rd of the company’s engineering, product, and marketing resources. LifeOmic publishes and maintains a number of direct-to-consumer focused apps, including LIFE Extend, a holistic health & wellness tracker, and LIFE Fasting, for tracking goals around intermittent fasting (with 4M downloads to date for these two multiplatform apps). In addition to improving the lives of their app users, the native mobile platform is also evolving to serve as a key foundation for a number of future company initiatives.

Challenge

Releasing four apps every single week was becoming unsustainable

"I don’t think we could have kept up what we were doing indefinitely."
headshot of Annica

Annica Burns
Director of Mobile Engineering

For two years straight, the LifeOmic mobile team diligently managed to release their four main apps (LIFE Extend and LIFE Fasting for iOS and Android both) almost every single week. They had put in extensive work to automate as much as they could, including a robust testing suite to lessen the need for manual regression or beta testing and to foster a speedy weekly release cycle. Ultimately, the goal was to automate more than just their build pipelines, so they could avoid manual checkpoints and handoffs that tended to bring the process to a crawl.

Yet, despite their admirable efforts, releases still felt all too manual to the LifeOmic team, and they were beginning to doubt whether their speedy weekly release cadence was sustainable. Collaboration and handoffs only happened via ad hoc exchanges and nudging on Slack, and sometimes that led to missed connections and general overhead. The team knew that visibility into the overall status of a release was key to de-risking the release routine, but knowledge of how a given release was progressing was still largely confined to a few of their team leads. They also needed to accommodate an additional engineer on rotation each sprint but lacked an easy way to onboard anyone who wasn’t already intimately familiar with the process.

The LifeOmic mobile team had long shared a dream of putting in place a seamless release train and achieving a state of true continuous deployment. But they ran into an impenetrable wall when it came to that final stage — delivering to the app stores. The Director of Product found himself continually asking around the team for status updates, to know when to step in and check screenshots and write release notes. And, only then, manually uploading and submitting four apps to the App Store and the Play Store each and every Saturday morning — hoping to finish as quickly as possible so he could get the rest of his weekend underway.

"We got pretty far with automation, but that last mile of shipping to the app stores seemed beyond our reach."
headshot of Annica

Annica Burns
Director of Mobile Engineering

And as a complicating backdrop to all of this, the next big step for LifeOmic as a company was fast approaching. Various development teams were charged with preparing for a future that was less siloed, where all product initiatives were a hybrid of web apps, mobile apps and their data platform. For the mobile team, it meant readying their apps (and processes) such that other teams at LifeOmic would be able to contribute code seamlessly and without introducing regressions or otherwise adding risk.

Transparency was going to be critical to enable this future of cross-platform collaboration. But in LifeOmic mobile’s current state, unless you were talking directly to those managing an app update or were keeping close tabs on random Slack conversations, you wouldn't know what version was being released, what problems or blockers had been raised, or which build numbers corresponded to the latest four release candidates to check out — it was near impossible to quickly and confidently understand the overall progress of a release, even for the immediate mobile team (let alone an increasingly larger orbit of stakeholders and co-dependent teams).

Solution

Runway enabling true end-to-end, automated release trains

The constant back-and-forth on Slack and the tedious fights with Apple and Google’s app store portals every weekend had made the dream of continuous deployment seem impossible.

Then, LifeOmic’s Director of Mobile Engineering was introduced to Runway and immediately considered that it could be just what they were looking for. Other team members were skeptical at first, doubting whether a(nother) tool could solve a problem that seemingly needed manual hand holding.

Soon after setting up Runway, complete with their weekly cadence dialed in to Runway’s “autopilot” scheduling, releases went from a very manual process where everything was messaged ad-hoc, to a fully automated one, backed by a single source of truth and with automatic notifications to the team about key milestones along the way. Runway now handled communication of testing progress in Slack and even took care of submission (and eventual release) to the app stores when all checks across the team had been completed.

Runway also provided a platform where engineers on rotation could jump in and understand the status of a release right away. LifeOmic found that the built-in safeguards and automated communication provided by Runway instantly made it possible for an engineer who hadn’t worked on a release in several weeks to confidently step in and help.

"Runway made our release rotations really work. Before, we didn't have the tools to democratize the process."
headshot of Annica

Annica Burns
Director of Mobile Engineering

Results

Intervention-free releases with more visibility for the wider team, and less time wasted in context-switching

Today, the mobile team at LifeOmic finally has the last puzzle piece in place to achieve their dream of continuous deployment. Runway seamlessly orchestrates with their existing pipelines and performs critical store-related tasks — removing the need to visit App Store Connect or Google Play Console directly, at all.

Just as important, the transparency afforded by Runway has replaced the former knowledge silos and allows anyone on the team — as well as contributors outside of the team — to understand, at a glance, exactly where a release stands. The Director of Product even gets his weekends back — since Runway allows him to finish his tasks asynchronously, and provides automations to replace much of his manual submission and release routine.

"I now have visibility into all the stuff our engineers are doing, so I can see where releases stand without having to ask. And, Runway brings all of our apps into one platform, so I’m not hopping between Play Console and App Store Connect tabs."
headshot of Annica

Matt Ferguson
Director of Product

Even as a smaller org with motivated team players, LifeOmic had once barely managed the painstaking manual work demanded by their existing release process. They knew they couldn't keep that up indefinitely, especially as the company grew. With Runway, an unsustainable situation has become sustainable. LifeOmic mobile now has the visibility and automation they need to keep up with their breakneck release velocity and pave the last mile on the road to continuous deployment — and, ultimately, to scale their release process to meet the challenges of LifeOmic’s next phase of growth.

"We just set up our release schedule in Runway and each do our jobs when Runway tells us something needs doing. Otherwise, it takes care of everything else. We were managing before, but it was not sustainable. Runway made it sustainable."
headshot of Jason

Jason Kokx
Automation Test Engineer

Release better with Runway.

Runway integrates with all the tools you’re already using to level-up your release coordination and automation, from kickoff to submission to release. No more cat-herding, spreadsheets, or steady drip of manual busywork.
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