What can a Ruby on Rails development shop actually do for your application? If you’re considering bringing on new resources to help with an application for the first time, you may be unsure what an outside dev shop can actually help with.
Here are a few things that an experienced development team will be able to do for your Rails application.
Why is it important to keep your Ruby on Rails application up to date on new versions of Rails and Ruby? We’ve outlined the importance of keeping your app up to date on a relatively new version of Rails before. If you partner with a development team, they should keep your application up to date for you – that is if you budget the time and money they need to perform these updates.
Updating a Rails application isn’t as simple as hitting a button to update your phone, unfortunately. You’ll want to work with your development team to plan ahead for these updates. It can be easy to push updates back to focus on more “money-making” new features, but small updates can pile up into big ones over time. To avoid sliding into costly technical debt, you can work with your development partner to fit minor updates into the schedule. This will help keep your application secure and running smoothly.
Work through your project backlog
A project development agency can help you work through your existing product backlog at the pace you need to meet your goals. In fact, many of the potential clients who approach us for development work come to us with an existing backlog that their current team (a freelancer, full-time developer, or another development agency) has not been able to get to in a timely manner. We often hear about lists of project features that need to be done before the end of the quarter, year, or a big milestone like a product launch or conference.
Whether your backlog is just a Google Doc or an organized to-do list within a project management tool, the dev shop you partner with will work with you to prioritize it in a way that delivers the best results. One of the perks of working with a development agency is that you will inherit a tried and true process for managing your backlog.
Manage bugs and errors
A Rails dev shop can be your first line of defense when bugs and errors pop up in your production application. There are tools out there that your development team will (or should) use so that they are the first to know when a bug occurs. We use Bugsnag, an application error monitoring and reporting tool that flags our developers when a bug occurs in an app. With tools like this, your dev team should know if your app is down or a bug has occurred before you do.
The urgency of issues in your application depends on how public the app is. If it’s something your customers can access and use 24/7, you want someone that can fix your app on a Sunday at 7am. If your application isn’t business-critical, a small bug may not be the end of the world and the to-do may need to be added to the backlog. Make sure you're aware with your development partner's process for handling bugs so you know what to expect when something breaks. Even with extensive quality assurance and testing, at some point, something will break in your app. You should know what to expect when it happens.
Increase app security and regulatory compliance
Application security is something that your Ruby on Rails dev shop can help you maintain. Keeping your application on a recent version of Rails is a good start. You’ll receive security patches when they’re released to the community that way. There are additional best practices regarding security (like customer data and credit card information) that your developers will need to follow as well.
Your dev shop can also help you stay compliant with regulatory updates like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI. Just like with version updates we mentioned above, implementing changes required to stay compliant to regulations may take some time. But the investment in development hours is worth it to avoid potential fines or lawsuits you risk if your app is not compliant.
Redesign your interface
Depending on the team you partner with for your project development, you may also be using them for user experience or interface design. If your Rails application has been around for a while it may have an outdated user experience. Older applications are likely to have sections that are difficult to work with. We have an in-house design strategist at Planet Argon that is heavily involved in projects where application redesigns are possible. They work closely with our front and back-end developers every step of the way.
If you think there are parts of your Rails application that could look and feel better for your users, let your dev shop know. You can collectively discuss potential redesign options and see how much better your application could be.
Thinking of partnering with an outside development team to handle your Ruby on Rails application? We'd love to teach you about our process for getting results. Click below to schedule a call with a member of our team.