Vontobel Case Study

graphic showing vontobels release process before and after using Flagsmith

About Vontobel 

Vontobel is a globally active investment firm with Swiss roots, specialising in wealth management, active asset management and investment solutions. Since their systems and applications need to run resilient and with high availability, bringing in new tools like Flagsmith means evaluating that tool with an internal guild to make sure it’s efficient and solves a problem in the existing development process. 

New tools and software need to be compliant, work, and check the boxes for making their teams work better.

The Problem

Vontobel built a homegrown solution feature flag solution but it didn’t have the tools they needed. 

With their in-house solution, the product team needed engineering support to make flag changes. Product owners also had to test tickets in staging environments before production, and the tickets were getting complicated to manage and needed a lot of information on what needed to be enabled, what needed to happen at each stage, and so on.  

The final driver for change was needing visibility. Vontobel had limited visibility and observability around flag changes, so they lacked insights into who did what, when changes happened, and what the current state of each stage was. 

This triggered them to look at feature flagging software—and a tool that was more accessible for their product team.  

The Solution

Vontobel chose Flagsmith’s feature management platform and opted to host it on their infrastructure. Now their release process is simpler and safer with feature flags. They can just say “Turn this flag on” or “Turn this flag off” and the product owners can make the changes. 

They use Flagsmith to address three main use cases: 

  1. Developing new features with breaking changes or external dependencies.
    Feature flags let them hide features behind toggles so that they can make sure the features are fully developed in production first. Then, when the external dependencies are ready, they can simply toggle the feature and everything is ready. Flags make the process much simpler and get rid of the need for huge overnight deployments with people managing them. 
  2. Hiding PoCs (proofs of concept) behind feature flags.
    With flags, Vontobel can enable PoCs in their acceptance environment while disabling them in production. This means they don’t have to maintain two code bases and can have one code base that contains both the current code and the PoC. 
  3. Telling customers about maintenance windows.
    When maintenance is scheduled, Vontobel has a payload in the feature flag with information about what’s happening and what to expect. They can simply enable the flag and the customer will receive a pop-up letting them know what’s happening. 

The Results

Vontobel now releases with confidence. The team can ship features and know that they’re pushing things to production that just work. They won’t need to run a tonne of tests, and they have visibility into what’s happening at every stage of development. This means they can ship new features to production with a lot more freedom.

Vontobel also has more time for the team to build new features. Feature flags simplify the release process for engineers. With Flagsmith, the process is also simpler for product owners. They can make changes to the flags directly, which frees them up from relying on the engineers. This saves both engineers' and product owners’ time.

Vontobel’s development speed and velocity have both increased. Feature flags mean they don’t have to worry about huge overnight deployments, sinking team time into running thousands of tests, and time lost on team dependencies. Instead, they’re freed up to develop new features. 

Read the full interview with Fabian Gübeli to learn about Vontobel’s feature flag use cases here.


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