With Sandbox here, its time to love changes!

It’s always difficult to adapt to change, isn’t it? Why? Because it is time-consuming, disturbs the daily workflow, and much more. Often, the admins struggle with some unavoidable changes that happen when an organization scales. And this is because the changes are unpredictable and can impact productivity, if not implemented right.

For instance, let us say you are planning to implement and integrate Freshcaller(a call centre tool from Freshworks) with your Freshservice account. When you integrate the tool in a live environment, there are chances that might result in an integration mishap, thereby unfolding large scale chaos. Untangling this will become another headache altogether.

Let me share a piece of Freshworks’ experience.

We are at that stage where we’re transitioning from a startup to a full-fledged enterprise. The growth is tremendous and this demands lightning-speed changes in the existing systems and workflows.

Here’s a glimpse of what is happening here.

Our IT team got more structured with three levels of hierarchy. New teams like Infosec, deals-desk, RFP desk, CRM, marketplace came into the picture. And because of these changes, workflows, assignments, and setups had to be changed. All of these had to happen without any hindrance to the agent and end-user experience.

One thing to note is that, in a rapidly growing environment, the existing system has to be intact while you make the changes. Any hindrance or disturbance to the setup will either collapse the flow or can even halt the working system. Either way, we may end up losing a lot of time figuring out what went wrong and rectifying those. More importantly, this can also jeopardize the end user experience.

How do we avoid this? How can we keep the system intact while still being able to make changes?

This is when our Freshservice product team came up with a solution. They stepped in to solve this problem, not only for us but also for all our Freshservice customers. Freshservice Sandbox is the solution that they’ve built.

 

What is sandbox?

 

Credits: Google

Sandbox is a virtual-testing environment where you can configure or make changes in the existing setup, test your workflows before you push it to the production environment. Once you’ve tested the configurations, with just a click of a button, these configurations will be replicated on your live account. In a nutshell, it’s just a mirror of the production environment for you to play around.

Now, let’s look at how Freshworks used Freshservice sandbox to recreate, make changes, and smoothly incorporate the changes into the production environment.

How to create a sandbox account?

A sandbox account can be created right within the live account. This sandbox account will mirror the live account setup.

Test configurations:

New groups for the new teams were created with revised SLAs, workflows, and setup.

View changes:

Once all the configurations were done, we viewed all of it to double check if everything was looking fine.

When we viewed the changes, few things caught our attention. It showed us two types of errors:

Sync error:

After the workflow for assignment of tickets to the L1 team was set, one of the conditions was deleted in the production environment by an agent while the sandbox was active. This, in turn, caused this error. Ideally, this is not a recommended practice. Whenever the sandbox is active, it is always a good idea to avoid making any changes directly in the production environment.

Conflict error:

While the sandbox was active, the group name and the description of the team capacity management was changed in the production environment by one of our IT agents.

The ‘view changes’ step was pretty crucial for two reasons:

  • It clearly stated why these errors occurred
  • Also, by clicking on these errors, it directed us to the exact link to rectify the mistakes.

Once we resolved the conflicts, we just regenerated the changes before the sync.

Sync the changes:

After resolving all the conflicts and regenerating the changes, we went ahead with the sync. Once the changes were replicated in the production environment, the sandbox got destructed automatically.

Now the best part is, while all of these were happening in the backend, none of the employees or clients experienced any kind of hindrance in their work. Our teams wowed us with quick responses and provided us with a good experience as always.

As an employee, I felt it worked like a well-planned magic trick!

Credits: clasharama.com/

Things to keep in mind:

  • Do not make any changes in the production environment when the sandbox is active
  • Always “Regenerate changes” with the latest data in the sandbox account once you fix the conflict errors
  • Make sure other admins have finished making all changes before you sync your changes to your production account so that all admin changes are copied.
  • Keep your sandbox account live for short periods of time – this prevents differences from adding up between your two accounts.
  • Plan your sync from sandbox to production account during off-peak hours.

In a nutshell, why sandbox?

Gives you a test environment to trial run the workflows or changes you want to implement

  • Helps in avoiding errors and prevents chaos in the production environment
  • Keeps the live environment intact while the changes are being done
  • Provides a hassle-free experience to end users when the changes are under progress
  • Test complex workflows in no time and sync it  with the live account

You can now confidently test out anything you want, make sure it’s working the way you want it to, and then make it live.

We tested this out at Freshworks. Our IT teams opened up the sandbox account and are pretty much into it, playing around, configuring things easily, and quickly syncing it up with the production environment. The teams are now excited and relieved.

Our teams at Freshworks are in for this. Are you? This will guide you to sandbox. Give it a shot!

 

Cover image by Sharmila

Video design by Karthikeyan

Edited by Vignesh Jeyaraman