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Putting efficiency and automation to the test with CircleCI

How sales unicorn, Outreach, uses CircleCI to maintain explosive growth and ship fast

The Challenge

Outreach is a sales engagement platform designed to automate routine sales tasks so that teams can focus on human personalization. When the need for communication automation hit an all-time high in early 2020 due to COVID-19, Outreach led the pack. So much so that they recently surpassed a $1 billion dollar valuation, were named a leader in Forrester’s recent Sales Engagement Wave, and made it on the Forbes Cloud 100 list for the third year in a row.

This leading sales engagement platform puts efficiency first, not just for their customers like Zoom, Snowflake, and DocuSign, but also internally. So, it’s no surprise to learn that they’ve mastered the efficient management of complex software development systems, down to their delivery pipelines.

But it wasn’t always this way.

With more than 150 engineers across more than a dozen teams, Outreach developers are responsible for various projects that each consist of different data stores, frameworks, and languages. Outreach Senior software engineer, Jon Anderson, supports the developers by identifying, implementing, and enforcing CI/CD best practices, patterns, and tools. Making sure each developer is equipped with the most efficient and productive systems in every stage of development helps Outreach stay ahead of the curve and meet the demands of a changing market.

When it comes to testing these systems, Anderson says, “everything Outreach does is tested inside of CircleCI. It is our testing platform of choice.”

The Solution

Anderson and his team aim for efficiency in everything they do, which relies heavily on the ability to customize automation with ease.

“CircleCI’s CI application spins up, builds fast, and fits based on each team’s use case. Compared to others, it’s much more flexible for testing and incredibly easy to use for integrations,” Anderson said.

Another core part of efficiency is failing fast and fixing even faster.

“We strive to have at least an 80 percent success rate on all of our projects and CircleCI helps us maintain this average,” said Anderson. “If something fails, CircleCI notifies us immediately, which allows us to quickly notify whoever recently committed and troubleshoot the problem with them right then and there.”

Why CircleCI

Anderson and his team define success based on how empowered they feel to work more efficiently.

“I’ve used a variety of CI tools and CircleCI is one of the more robust. I like that it’s not too hard to put a lot of pieces together and it’s also not too difficult to grasp. A lot of other systems make the trade-off of being very easy to use, but not easy to do hard things. Or easy to do difficult things but not easy things. I think CircleCI strikes a really good balance between the two.”

When asked about the impact his teams have had on Outreach’s explosive growth this year, Anderson pointed to the future. “The work that our team has done will help with Outreach’s ongoing product strategy. CircleCI provides us the ability to act on the strategy that we have and allows our code to get pushed as fast as possible, which is better for long term growth.”

In order to maintain continuous growth, Anderson needs visibility into areas of concern that may have long-term implications for his team. This is where CircleCI’s Insights capabilities make a difference.

“Using CircleCI’s Insights capabilities, we’ve been able to pinpoint failed builds faster and have seen success rates climb. CircleCI’s Insights are also beneficial to understand long term trends when determining the best CI/CD practices for our team.”

Jon Anderson
“We strive to have at least an 80 percent success rate on all of our projects and CircleCI helps us maintain this average. From conception to delivery, we got the changes out in three days.”

Jon Anderson
Senior Software Engineer at Outreach

About Outreach

Outreach is the number one sales engagement platform with the largest customer base and industry-leading usage. Outreach helps companies dramatically increase productivity and drive smarter, more insightful engagement with their customers.

More than 4,500 companies such as Adobe, Tableau, DoorDash, Splunk, DocuSign, and SAP depend on Outreach’s enterprise-scale, unparalleled customer adoption, and robust AI-powered innovation. Outreach is a privately held company based in Seattle, Washington.

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