OpenWater

Helping to achieve work-life balance with better tools and processes

In the world of digital transformation, where every company is a software company, the moviegoing experience now begins online. The small cinema sector is no exception, and the pressure is on for boutique cinemas to keep up with large multiplexes and meet online expectations.

“It’s not just about when you turn up to the cinema anymore. It’s about the entire booking process,” says Sean Jackson, Software Development Manager at Veezi. “Buying your ticket online needs to be as easy and simple as possible.”

To help independent cinemas provide the unique and frictionless experience that moviegoers crave, Veezi’s development team needs to deliver updates and features that are error-free.

“It’s incredibly important for Veezi to deliver a reliable experience.” Sean says.

Sean Jackson, Software Development Manager at Veezi
Vista Cinema software runs in 40% of the world's cinemas in 100-plus countries worldwide. If our customers aren't getting a reliable experience from us, that means their customers aren't getting a reliable experience from them.
Sean Jackson - Software Development Manager

As a manager, it’s Sean’s job to maintain development velocity by optimizing the time developers spend writing code. As part of that task, Sean is always looking for inefficiencies in processes and tooling. During a routine evaluation, he noticed that managing errors was consuming too much of his team’s time. Sean recognized that instead of testing every configuration and looking through error logs to diagnose errors, an error monitoring solution would alert them to errors and their cause.

Sean says that when they implemented Raygun Crash Reporting, he was able to introduce more efficient error management workflows. The results were excellent—his team saved hours every week—enabling them to optimize time spent writing features and delivering quality code to customers.

Collection of images showing Veezi by Vista using Raygun Crash Reporting to increase reliability

The confidence to deploy, even during times of increased load

Modern multiplexes have set the bar high for independent cinema. Moviegoers want a boutique experience, but still expect state-of-the-art screens, luxury seating, and flawless booking experiences.

Monitoring thousands of applications for software problems is challenging, but Veezi has built robust workflows that ensure—even with increased load from blockbuster movie releases—there is no downtime for their customers.

Sean explains: “For movie releases like the Avengers or a new Star Wars movie, we'll see up to 20 times our usual load coming through our ticketing systems.”

Even during these high-load windows, Raygun Crash Reporting gives the team confidence to deploy changes and bug fixes faster. “When we deploy a feature into our test system, being able to find any errors before we push it up to production and before our customers notice is absolutely critical. Raygun is absolutely an integral part of our workflow to enable deployment of better software faster.”

With Raygun’s Dashboard, Sean’s team can investigate and resolve errors before customers notice, allowing them to deliver their product more reliably and more quickly.

I think now we have one of the best workflows you would find anywhere. We're able to power through writing new features more of the time and that means better outcomes for our customers and their customers.

A best-practice workflow enables Veezi to innovate and scale up faster

A best-practice workflow enables Veezi to innovate and scale up faster

Online ticket sales for cinemas are increasing every year, and we know that moviegoers that purchase online are more likely to attend in groups, buy concession items and upgrade to premium seating. Therefore, more independent cinemas are turning to Veezi to help increase their online reputation and their bottom line.

As Veezi’s team grows and scales up to meet that demand, Sean wants to ensure the development team is always delivering new value and maintaining an error-free product.

"It's important for us to be able to have a lot of confidence in our own product. Because everyone here is really passionate about the movies, we are essentially customers of our customers. That motivates us to innovate faster and deliver our product as soon as achievable as well.”

Linbis uses Raygun Crash Reporting and Slack for proactive error monitoring

To create an effective method of detecting errors in production, Eric looked to Raygun Crash Reporting. One of the first steps Eric’s team took was to set up production alerts so that the development team is made aware of any issues in real-time.

“Raygun’s had a positive impact on our team; that ties back to the developer’s ability to spend most of their time writing features with confidence and reducing the lead time of feature delivery."

“Everyone is proud to be part of this unique business where we are supporting the independent cinema industry with a mission-critical product and in doing so, increasing both the standard of their moviegoer experience and the economic success of their cinemas.”

About Veezi and Vista Cinema

Veezi, engineered by Vista, is the leading independent cinema management software solution in the world. Running in the cloud, in more cinemas, in more countries than any other provider, you couldn't have better credentials to develop Veezi. A bunch of movie zealots working alongside Vista Cinema across 100+ countries (and counting), they understand the moviegoing experience and constantly strive to enhance it for all.

Visit www.veezi.com and follow Veezi on Facebook and Vista Cinema on LinkedIn and Twitter

OpenWater is an online awards management provider that helps event professionals organize and run seamless award ceremonies. They help customers of all sizes including mega-corporations like Disney and Kellogg's down to local businesses such as your town’s daily publication.

Kunal Johar is the Co-Founder and Director of Technology at OpenWater. A pivotal part of his role is ensuring the OpenWater platform is customized and configured to meet the exact needs of their clients, all while managing an efficient development team of 12 in a high-growth environment. To achieve this, Kunal needs to understand the software problems customers experience so he can improve where needed and offer exceptional support without draining resources. Kunal says, “And that’s why we use Raygun.”

Headshot of the CTO and Co-Founder of Open Water Kunal Johar
I now get one or two errors a week that need to be reported
Kunal Johar - Co-Founder and Director of Technology

The need to sort real errors from user-generated malfunctions

To build better products for clients and offer more efficient support, Kunal wanted to understand the problems clients were experiencing. However, most support requests were for things outside of their control (like faulty browser plugins), creating noise, obscuring real software problems and wasting the development team’s time.

Kunal gives an example of a common scenario in customer-facing technology. “If a client experiences a broken link, from their point of view, it’s broken. But from our point of view, it was the email tool breaking the link, if we could detect the ‘why’, we could compensate for our customer’s technology toolchain.”

Kunal uses Raygun to aggregate error data across multiple platforms into one repository so they can sort and fix the real errors, and still provide an excellent customer experience around user-generated malfunctions.

“With Raygun, we now have the data to back up customer complaints so we can address them. We wanted to isolate those so we can focus on things that are truly within our control, and if we can show a friendlier error to the user, we should.”

Kunal implemented a Raygun Zero Error Initiative to manage the time developers spend on errors while offering a better customer experience.

This initiative has been extremely successful in both reducing the noise inside Raygun and reducing the number of support tickets going to developers. Kunal realized that many of the errors could be solved without development time. He says: “It’s amazing...all of a sudden, you wake up one day and 99% of the complaints are gone because they can be handled by other people.”

Collection of photographs showing OpenWater's software on multiple devices

The Raygun Zero Error Initiative: How OpenWater offers excellent customer service and makes error management quicker with Custom tags

Before Raygun, OpenWater were receiving thousands of errors that created unfriendly customer error messages, like “Formatexception. Input string not in the correct format.” Clients would understandably think this was an error and call support.

However, if they could change this to a more actionable error message, like “Please enter the correct email address” the client gets the antidote, and there’s no need to log the exception in Raygun.The customer feels empowered and follows the action.

Because Raygun shows the frequency of the occurring errors in a daily digest, Kunal can give priority to the top 10% of errors and give them friendlier error messages.

If it’s a genuine error, OpenWater uses the Custom tagging feature to attach an alphanumeric code to every error they send. This gives them the best of both worlds; offering a personalized service to their customer while pinpointing the cause of the error quickly with the attached stack trace.

The Raygun Zero Initiative has reduced OpenWater’s support time significantly because there are no errors in Raygun that aren’t truly software errors.

Kunal says, ”We are never going to get to zero errors, but the point is, do we have a manageable number we can look through? I now get one or two errors a week that need to be reported. Of the 154 errors that came through in the last 24 hours, most look like transient things.”

We created a detailed guide of exactly how Kunal and his team configured Raygun for the Raygun Error Zero Initiative here.

How Raygun helps OpenWater to grow as a company without slowing down for software errors

As the OpenWater platform grows and traffic increases, you would usually expect the error rate to increase alongside the growth curve.

However, with Raygun in place, Kunal is confident that they can handle more traffic while the incoming error rate has stayed consistent for almost three years. OpenWater’s development team can now spend time proactively unit testing and amending error messages.

Raygun is the integral tool that helped us get a handle on that kind of traffic without many bugs. We still spend 25% of our time on QA and bug fixes. Before Raygun, that 25% was all spent on reactive work. Now, I’d say half of that time is proactive

Kunal’s ideal developer toolkit for software startups

Many companies in the early stages of business are unsure where to invest their development time, which leads to lack of prioritization and a chaotic environment.

As a mentor to many startups, Kunal attributes OpenWater’s growth to tools and processes and advises younger companies to invest in error management early. He recommends Raygun regularly as part of the developer toolkit startups need to be successful from an early stage, alongside Jira Software, Slack, and Scribe.

In particular, he offers advice to development managers and says, “At a minimum, 30% of your time should be spent toward remediation. And once you get below that number, start spending time on the proactive work.” He adds, “Raygun is a quick tool to get the signals you need in terms of what your error volume is like.”

At the end of the day, better tools and processes allow for a better work-life balance

Kunal admits when OpenWater first started, he worked weekends on support duty so much that his “eyes hurt,” and attributes a better work life balance to tools and processes put in place around development and support - including Raygun.

“The bigger measurement is that by having a tool like Raygun we are able to grow at the speed of our company’s growth without expending our development resources. Everyone has proper vacation time, and no-one works crazy schedules. Our tools and processes are a testament to that. I was working nonstop. But by cutting down the number of emergencies, (using Raygun) we have achieved a good work life balance while we grow the company.”

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