Smartex Case Study

case study graphic showing Smartex' releases before vs after implementing Flagsmith

The Challenge

Smartex offers AI and tools for the Modern Textile Factory. They’re building and scaling. As they expand to more countries and customers, they need to make sure their tools and processes scale with them.

They have config tools for things that are engineering-specific and infrequently changed. As they grow, though, they realised they needed tools that were more accessible to the product team as well. They don’t want the product team depending on the engineering teams for every rollout or customer segmenting idea. 

They also want to reduce their release cycles so that they can grow more easily. Smartex has a lot of complex products and a big part of reducing their release cycle length is tied to unlocking their whole team (including product). With their previous feature management process, the product team relied on the engineering team to make updates or turn things on. People had to go in and make changes via the API—or by going into the database to update feature settings. 

All of this was sinking time for their teams. 

The Solution

Smartex implemented Flagsmith to make their release process and feature management more efficient. 

Now the product team can segment customers and run staged rollouts to early-adopter (or beta) clients in line with their preferences. They don’t have to rely on engineering, and can identify clients who have an appetite for new features and roll out to those customers first. 

Feature flags allow them to toggle off problematic features and continue patching in parallel, reducing risk and ensuring smoother releases.

Rather than putting internal resources into building a solution like this themselves, they use Flagsmith to keep their engineering energy focused on building the tools and software that are core to their business. 

The Results

Smartex’ engineering team now spends less time manually adjusting configs in the database. And their product team spends less time going through the engineering team. 

Smartex has also reduced its release cycle through staged rollouts. They’ve built solid processes for testing and troubleshooting, and they have processes that can grow with them. A few ways this plays out:

  1. Teams aren’t bottlenecked: The product team can segment customers for phased rollouts independently, freeing up time for product and engineering alike. They’ve also spent time educating the teams on their feature flagging architecture to keep their processes streamlined and prevent technical debt. 
  2. They can meet customer needs faster: Bringing down release cycles and increasing team efficiency mean being able to release faster—and meet customer demands quicker. With segmentation, they can also personalise their releases and roll out to specific customers first. 
  3. Releases cycles are safer and lower risk: Smartex is reducing the release cycle for their Smartex Core product—the key component for fabric inspection inside textile machines. With staged rollouts supported by feature flags, they can safely deploy, easily toggle features on and off, and speed up the release process.
  4. Testing is improving: They have a lot of hardware and complex, stateful software so automated testing can be hard. To manage this, they built a simulation engine to add more software testing. When they deploy a new release to their fleet, the phased rollouts start with early-adopter clients who they’ve identified as more fault-tolerant and more eager to try new features. 

These new features are deployed behind feature flags using Flagsmith, so if a feature is causing problems, they can toggle it off and patch the problematic feature in tandem.

Smartex continues to improve their release cycles and processes. By using a feature flagging tool, Smartex can focus on their core business and building processes that will continue to scale with them. 

Find the full interview with Jared Baribeau from Smartex here.


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