Clients come to an agency like Def Method with different projects and different needs. But there’s one thing that all clients need first and foremost — trust. Whether it’s helping startups deliver an MVP or companies transform their business, Def Method relies on Heroku to help it build successful client relationships grounded in trust. Part of that comes from Heroku’s robust, managed platform as a service that gives clients a simplified path to enterprise-grade scale, security, and compliance. In addition, collaboration tools make it easier for the agency to create transparent, fluid project processes that help clients stay informed and engaged.
Founded in 2014, Def Method is a service-oriented software consultancy based in New York City. The company focuses on building innovative technology solutions for clients in a wide range of industries, including fintech and traditional finance, real estate, fashion, and e-commerce. In addition to software development, Def Method helps client engineering teams optimize their agile processes around product discovery and management.
Heroku - Def Method’s PaaS of choice
Def Method’s founder had been using Heroku since the platform’s early days, and he has since had over a decade of experience recommending Heroku to colleagues and clients. The agency’s engineers advocate for using Heroku due to their past experience with the platform and its support within the open source community. When it comes time to build the next client app or feature set, they reach for Heroku first.
Our developers tell me that they prefer to use Heroku. I’m not pushing it on them. It’s organic. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
Today, nearly all projects at Def Method are deployed to Heroku. The platform’s flexibility enables the agency to use whichever languages, services, and tools that best fit each project. Developers can use Heroku’s structured CI/CD workflow to stay as productive as possible and deliver value quickly to clients. Because Heroku takes care of servers and infrastructure concerns, clients can easily get hands-on with their projects using as few technical resources as possible.
With Heroku, our projects don’t need a DevOps engineer or a release engineer. A single developer can manage the entire app lifecycle, from writing code to deploying it and then monitoring performance and managing scale. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
Speed and productivity is critical to any tech business, but it is especially so for consultancies like Def Method. To stay competitive, the company needs to deliver innovative solutions quickly, and maintain a rapid cadence of ongoing projects. Heroku’s simplified developer experience helps the team stay productive and ship software faster. In particular, the team loves the platform’s command line interface. The Heroku CLI allows developers to access everything associated with their apps in a user-friendly manner — and still keep their hands on the keyboard, ready to jump back into coding.
Greenfield, brownfield, or minefield
Clients come to Def Method for help with a broad range of challenges. Sometimes the agency is tasked with building something new from the ground up. Other projects involve modernizing a legacy solution or rescuing a troubled system. All require an in-depth strategy around both technology and process.
In the case of existing software, Def Method helps clients analyze their approach to DevOps as well as their stack. The agency finds that many clients don’t realize the full extent of the costs associated with dedicating a team to run apps on an infrastructure as a service, such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform. In addition, many don’t realize the risks involved with having to manage data security at the infrastructure level. Data is critical to a company’s success, so if it is lost or compromised, it could mean the end of the business.
Building a relationship of trust with clients
Heroku’s fully managed platform eliminates part of the risk equation. A team of dedicated experts at Heroku takes care of infrastructure security and maintenance, freeing Def Method’s developers to focus on data security within the application. If needed, Heroku Private Spaces offer clients a network-isolated environment for enhanced privacy. For Def Method, trust in Heroku is an important first step in establishing a trusted relationship with each client.
At Def Method, we build our business on transparency and trust, and Heroku really helps to make this possible. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
Another important component to building trust is effective communication and collaboration. Client teams include both engineers and non-technical stakeholders, and Def Method consultants need to make sure that everyone understands key technical concepts and details. Heroku’s simplified UI and visual tools make this job easier, and Def Method typically uses the Heroku Dashboard to show clients the state of their apps and teach them how to manage app operations. When the time comes to fully hand off a project, the client team can easily step in and take over.
We can talk to clients about scaling resources and databases without a lengthy explanation or having to use a whiteboard. We can simply walk them through the Heroku Dashboard. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
During app development, Def Method collaborates closely with clients and often needs to demonstrate new features to get feedback or approval. Heroku Review Apps enable them to do so seamlessly. Once a feature is ready to share, the Def Method team can quickly spin up a temporary review app and send its unique URL to the client team or demo it live during a meeting. Clients can test the feature themselves and verify that it’s working as expected or discuss any changes needed.
Review Apps are a fantastic way of collaborating with clients and managing acceptance testing. Regardless of where clients are located, we can easily share new features in development for quick feedback or approval. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
Heroku is enterprise-ready for growing apps
Def Method’s projects may vary, but most clients are looking for a long-term solution for running their apps. The agency sees Heroku’s scalability and enterprise-grade support as a competitive advantage — they can launch a client’s application with confidence, knowing that the platform’s enterprise support is available down the road when demand grows.
One client who has grown on Heroku is DaisyBill, a platform that provides worker's compensation services. DaisyBill started off on Heroku using a moderate amount of resources and then moved to a Heroku Enterprise plan when the amount of throughput they were managing became high enough that they needed the extra platform power. The company then took a step further and began using Heroku Shield Private Spaces for enhanced data privacy and HIPAA compliance.
Occasionally, Def Method sees companies that are trying to manage data privacy compliance amidst shifting industry regulations. Heroku Shield is an easy option for these clients. Instead of investing time, resources, and legal fees in trying to build and maintain their own compliant environment, they can simply deploy their apps to a Heroku Private Space, turn on Heroku Shield, and rest assured that compliance is taken care of at the infrastructure level.
We’ve been fortunate enough to see many of our clients grow. As their needs change, we know that Heroku is there for them over the long term. Joe Leo, Founder, Def Method
Sometimes clients start out on Heroku Enterprise due to the complexity of their use case. FloodHelpNY was a project initiated by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery in New York. Def Method built a React-on-Rails app that helped New Yorkers who had either already been impacted by flooding or at risk for future floods. One of the main features of the app enabled users to calculate flood insurance, which needed to share data between the app’s Heroku Postgres database and the government agency’s Salesforce implementation. The team used Heroku Connect to enable seamless data flows between the app and Salesforce in real time. Implementing Heroku Connect was quick and painless, and the Def Method team could go back to focusing on building a great experience for users.
From Heroku advocate to Heroku partner
Trust works both ways, and the team at Def Method have also built a trusted relationship with the business side of Heroku. The agency has become an official Heroku Consulting Partner, which allows them to extend their expertise to a broader range of clients through the Salesforce Partner ecosystem.
Inside Def Method on Heroku
Def Method engineers build apps on Heroku using a wide variety of languages and frameworks. Heroku Postgres is their preferred data store and the team uses it by default in most projects. They also use Heroku Redis frequently for running background jobs. For apps on a Heroku Enterprise plan, Heroku Private Spaces provide enhanced privacy and control, and Heroku Connect syncs data with Salesforce. Currently, the team is using Apache Kafka on Heroku for a large corporate client.
Listen to the Code[ish] podcast featuring Joe Leo: “Updating Legacy Code”.