Appirio's Patient Care Management Bolt: Built on Salesforce DX

July 30, 2019 Nicole Sholly

Roarke Lynch, Director of Product Development at Appirio, built the Patient Care Management Bolt on Salesforce DX, an updated developer experience that changed the way applications are built. This Bolt is Appirio’s latest solution that strives to supercharge patient engagement and provide health teams with tools that enable transparency and collaboration. In this Q&A, Roarke explains why he and his team made the transition to Salesforce DX.

Appirio DX dashboard displayed on different digital screens

What opportunities did the transition create for the team and future users of the Bolt?  

Wow, do you have a few hours? If I had to boil it down, moving our Bolt development process to SalesforceDX and Appirio DX gave us the foundation to innovate quickly, with less operational overhead, all without having to sacrifice trust and confidence in our codebase. 
DX allows Appirio Labs to gain all the benefits of modern DevOps (such as greater team efficiency and faster time to market) while we develop solutions for Salesforce. Our team can be more effective, nimble, and quality-driven because of DX. 

What are the perceived benefits of this transition?

Outside of the direct benefits to the (AMAZING) team of developers in Appirio Labs, DX-based development pays big dividends to our Sales and Delivery teams. 

Because our builds are source-driven, we don’t have to be limited by the ‘demo org’ mentality. There is no long-term overhead to maintaining a demo environment. Our Sales teams can spin up a fresh Scratch Org, right from source, that includes all of the needed demo data and configuration specifics.

Make a mess of the org during a demo? Who cares, throw it away and spin up a new one.

Want to customize your environment for a specific customer? You don’t have to worry about ‘undoing’ your work.

In fact, the disposability of Scratch Orgs is huge in letting our teams become more familiar with our solutions. There isn’t anything better than hands-on experience. Want to learn more about our IoT Bolt? Just spin up from source and play around.

What challenges did you face and overcome during this time?

Modern DevOps involves a lot of skills that haven’t been staples in the Salesforce ecosystem. We also needed to shake off a lot of muscle memory for how we built before DX. That actually wasn’t too bad. Our teams are always eager to explore new tools, that’s why we’re here.

We also had to figure out our own best practices for dealing with the scripted installation of demo data into our orgs. We’ve integrated that process directly into our sprints so that our Devs and QA are literally working from the same state. No more “Test Contact 1”, “Test Contact 2”, the builds have live, relatable, demo-ready data from very early on in the build.

What are the overarching benefits of building on Salesforce DX?

We’ve already touched on the DevOps payoffs that come with DX. When it comes to modularity, DX dramatically changes the landscape.

Our builds are modular from the ground up. When we build a Bolt, we isolate capabilities and employ patterns that support loose coupling between dependencies. This means that we get three big benefits:

  1. It’s easier to build because you’re able to be more focused. You aren’t wading through a massive soup of possibly interrelated metadata. Each module is a smaller set of artifacts making it faster to understand how they work together without requiring the overhead of complex documentation.
  2. You maximize ROI because you plan on reuse. Designing around loose coupling means that you need to figure out, at the beginning, how to use a module in ANY org. This means the next use of the module is more approachable, configurable, and faster.
  3. Our teams aren’t forced to take the Bolt whole-cloth. We design our Bolts to resonate with the common challenges faced by a specific industry. Sometimes a customer needs only a subset of the Bolt, or they like parts of several Bolts, some of which may be originally designed for a completely different vertical. No problem. DX makes modular design and implementation so much more straightforward. We can easily pick-and-choose.

What does the future hold? What exciting things do we have to look forward to?

More, more, more. Our first steps were about empowering our developers, giving them the tools, training, and permission to take control of the build. Our focus now is on expanding the tent, making it easier for Admins and App Builders to have a seat at the table while we build.

Declarative access and configuration, no code, these are core benefits of Salesforce. Our build process needs to play into that strength. 

What gap does this Bolt bridge?

It’s all about experience, not just for patients but also for their families, in-home care providers, and the supporting back-offices staff. This Bolt is based on the amazing work we did at Ashfield Health. Health Cloud provides us the framework we need to revolutionize our experiences of healthcare. We wanted to share our vision of a truly interconnected health care experience where Health Cloud, Community Cloud, and Field Service Lightning work together to surround a patient with the attention, care, and support they need to lead a healthier life.

What inspired you to start building this Bolt? Were you reading up on Salesforce Health Cloud? What was the initial source of inspiration?

Ashfield Health was our inspiration. They are looking toward the future, and the glimpse we saw of that future them was very motivating. Look, health care is hard in so many ways, but we all know that we deserve better. I hope what we’ve put together helps inspire others into forging ahead to help make that expectation a reality. I was at my doctor’s office just last week and thought to myself: “Man, they need our Bolt!” 

To learn more about the Appirio Patient Care Management Bolt, talk to a Health and Life Sciences expert.

Roarke Lynch is Director for Appirio’s Product & Innovation Lab. He's been developing and integrating on the Salesforce platform for over a decade. Roarke is from the Washington D.C. area and now lives with his wife and daughter in Austin, TX. In his spare time, you’ll find him bouldering, fostering kittens, or geeking out over math, science, and economic innovations.


About the Author

Nicole Sholly

With two decades of writing, editing, and author coaching experience, Nicole has written on topics ranging from big data security to improving employee workspaces to how to be a better wordsmith -- for Rackspace, Office Depot, Macy’s, Social Media Today, and others. When she’s not writing, editing, or otherwise playing with words, Nicole enjoys reading them.

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