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Whether you’re an individual developer in the trenches of a small web development project or you’re a client stakeholder of an enterprise web application, you can reap the rewards of sharing a proof of concept or an MVP to get feedback at any stage of development - whatever role you’re playing on the project.

However, this is just one way to sum up the many benefits of using a deployment preview tool in a development workflow. Fair warning: leveraging a pull request builder like Tugboat on a project may result in easier collaboration with all stakeholders, better visibility into project progress, and increased velocity across the SDLC for all teams.

The Stakeholder’s Game

Everyone who participates in a project is a stakeholder of some sort - and the degree of activity in which they participate can dictate what benefit is most valuable to them. But, one thing is for certain - entire teams are empowered when they are equipped with the right tools.

This includes the ability to spin up ephemeral environments - through the power of automation, code reviews become so much easier, as do conversations with stakeholders and/or less technical team members.

At the 10,000 ft. level, this means:

  • Gaining on-demand visibility into what teams are working on
  • Creating real-time feedback loops for in-progress work
  • Getting buy-in and consensus for development work before it goes live
  • Developing trust in the engineering process and best practices
  • Improving relationships across the organization and externally

As a whole team, these benefits are broad and run deep. Breaking this down into specific roles, we can see that there are myriad benefits for each that complete this puzzle.

Role Top Benefits

DevOps & IT Teams  🤖

Team members in the DevOps and IT functions may see an immediate benefit from reduced infrastructure need when using a cloud-hosted git pull request builder, such as Tugboat.

In addition, less time spent troubleshooting setups means more time spent on critical tasks.

  • Reduced server infrastructure needs - and costs
  • No more complex CI/CD pipelines
  • Infrastructure testing without disruption of development work
  • Deployment Previews verify database backups - and the deployment process itself

Engineering Managers  👩🏾‍💻

Eng leaders face multiple complexities when it comes to having visibility into what the team is working on at any given moment.

Combine that with managing people, stack and software architecture, as well as overall project performance and delivering bug-free, conflict-free code - ensuring confidence at this level is a priority.

  • Issues and opportunities identified at a moment’s notice
  • Higher quality in the release pipeline and fewer bugs in production
  • Always-on ready-to-deploy main branch
  • Infrastructure and architecture validation for more performant websites and web apps
  • Dev teams are equipped with best-in-class toolsets for optimal efficiency

Back & Front-end Developers  🛠

While folks in these roles do not necessarily do the same work, they can realize similar benefits - with some specific value adds for each.

Backend devs can focus on data and functionality, and leveraging ephemeral staging environments to solicit feedback reduces time spent shoring up staging environments and syncing databases.

Front-end devs will focus and move more quickly through design implementation and feedback revs - and sharing updates on the fly - it’s as easy as sharing the deploy preview URL.

Back-end Devs

  • Code reviews without blowing up local environments
  • Validated work before merging to staging or testing branches
  • Test code interoperability with other teams or projects
  • Config changes and experiments are a breeze

Front End Devs

  • Code works in a production-like environment, off of a local dev environment
  • Discrepancies from design specs are avoided - improving and speeding up the development process
  • Front-end work lines up with back-end code - before merging it into production
  • Check for regressions with visual diffs and Google Lighthouse tests

User Experience & UI Designers  🖌

Git pull request builders can provide visibility into how developers are implementing project designs.

With a working version of a website for every pull request, UX and design teams can easily communicate feedback at any stage of project development.

  • Review front-end development work to validate design patterns
  • Share clickable website previews with stakeholders
  • Conduct usability testing earlier with on-demand deploy previews

Project & Product Managers  👨🏿‍💻

Gaining quick insight into project progress is critical for those whose duty it is to provide status reports to key project stakeholders, scope new and existing work, and determine if a project is ready for the next phase.

Removing the barriers for instant feedback and sharing progress empowers technical and less technical users who need to move quickly and not be burdened with local staging environments.

  • User story acceptance criteria is easily verified with Previews
  • Real-time progress is easily shared with stakeholders
  • Demos without the headache of local environments
  • Your team avoids rework and saves budget, time, and resources

QA Teams  🕵️

Ah, the pièce de résistance!

There’s no better team to enable with tools that remove bottlenecks, increase velocity, and streamline the rework and bug squash request process?

  • Start testing and review faster
  • Test or review multiple pull requests simultaneously
  • No need to maintain a local dev environment for simple reviews
  • Easily run automated tests against automated environments
  • Leverage visual regression testing to spot bugs
  • Integration testing early and often

Client Stakeholders & End Users  👩🏻‍💻

Many times, these key players (whose roles run the gamut and skillsets span across the entire organization) are the last to see working versions of their website or application.

But with critical and potentially game-changing feedback at any given moment, providing access to real-time environments on-demand will help everyone avoid unnecessary pitfalls, hours of rework, and maximize the ROI in every phase - from kick-off to launch.

  • Quick visibility into how the project is going
  • Constant feedback loop for in-progress work
  • Confidence that project progress is matching timeline, budget, and current status
  • Non-technical users can review work without technical barriers
  • Trust is established with team members participating in the project - at all levels

How to Win Friends and Remove Barriers in the SDLC

Transparency and visibility can help establish trust and lead to less time spent maintaining infrastructure, reducing code rework time, and faster peer review cycles - resulting in higher ROI. Our friends on the Support & Maintenance team at Lullabot have a fantastic story about how they have leveraged Tugboat and increased their output.

With ephemeral automated preview environments in the web dev process, stakeholders - from any role in the project - can quickly look at works-in-progress at any stage. Combined with the comfort of knowing that things like visual regression testing and automated tests and deploys are happening, folks get peace of mind that their project is following engineering best practices, leveraging strong deployment and testing processes, and working as efficiently as possible.

If you’d like to talk to our team about how a tool like Tugboat can improve your organization’s workflow, drop us a line.

Thanks to Dachary Carey for her contributions to this article.