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Feature Flagging 101: How to Get Your Team On Board With Using Feature Flags

Madison Maher


How to talk to your team about feature flags

You may be ready to implement feature flags, and you may think your team is ready to use them, but how do you get everyone on board? How do you convey the value of feature flags to your team and colleagues so that they’ll want to use them, too? In this article, we’ll cover a few things you should plan to share with your team to get everyone (yes, even your CEO!) on board with using feature flags.

1. Educate and inform your team on the benefits of feature flags

First things first: in order to get everyone excited to use feature flags, you need to educate them on their benefits. Luckily for you, we’ve got tons of resources on feature flagging benefits and use cases, so that you can walk into the conversation feeling confident and prepared. 

Keep in mind: the benefits someone will care about when it comes to feature flags will likely depend on their role. For example, your individual developers and engineers might care more about a feature flag platform’s ease of use and workflow integrations, whereas your CTO might care more about how feature flags increase deployment frequency and impact other key metrics that they’re measured on. 

But most of the benefits of feature flags are all-encompassing ones that everyone in your organization will care about. Here are a few to get you started: 

Accelerate Development: Feature flags enable faster development cycles by decoupling feature releases from code deployments, empowering teams to iterate and deliver updates more frequently.

Reduce Risks: Feature flags mitigate risks associated with new feature releases by providing the ability to easily enable or disable features, ensuring a controlled and safe deployment process.

Enhance User Experiences: Feature flags enable personalized and tailored user experiences by activating or deactivating specific features based on user preferences, behaviors, or segments.

Foster Collaboration: Feature flags promote collaboration and efficient teamwork by allowing developers to work concurrently on different features, eliminating dependencies and bottlenecks.

Empower Data-Driven Decisions: Feature flags enable A/B testing and experimentation, providing valuable insights to make data-driven decisions, optimize features, and improve overall product performance.

2. Emphasize the risks of *not* using feature flags

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The best way to understand the true value of something is to try and understand what life would be like without that thing. This article titled “What Does it Look Like to Code Without Feature Flags?” will do all the heavy lifting for you. In it, we tell the story of a development team that gets stuck in brutally long development cycles with risky code releases because they don’t use feature flags. Compare that to the story of What Coding With Feature Flags Looks Like, and ask your team which scenario they'd prefer. (10/10 dev teams will choose the latter, trust us.)

3. Provide real world examples of how other teams use feature flags

We all love a good success story. (And we often feel better about making a particular decision when we know others have seen a positive result from it, too.) You can name drop some big companies that use feature flags, like Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Facebook, if you want. Or you can keep it more down-to-earth and show your team this list of 10 Ways Real Companies Use DevCycle’s Feature Flags. We’ve also got an article on specific feature flagging use cases so that you can show your team some practical ways feature flags would improve their release process.

5. Address any concerns

Change can be scary – especially when it comes to implementing a new dev process or tool. You’ll likely get some push back or concerns regarding increased technical debt, scalability, or impact on performance. It’s important to address these concerns by explaining how feature flag management tools simplify the process and help you monitor performance. 

And as for the technical debt objection, because we know you’ll get it at some point, ask your team this:

Would you rather spend an additional 10 minutes removing old flags and maintaining clean code on a Tuesday morning, or be rushing to meet a deployment deadline at the end of the month and releasing messy code to your users that will likely take an entire week to rollback and fix without feature flags?

You can also let your team know that addressing the technical debt associated with feature flags was one of our primary reasons for building DevCycle. We didn’t just build DevCycle in a way that makes it easy to build feature flags. We built DevCycle in a way that makes it ultra-easy to manage the entire lifecycle of your feature flag: from building it, to tracking and managing its performance, and even knowing when to remove it, we don’t leave you or your flags hanging. Read more about how we're combating technical debt with a CLI for code clean up here

6. Provide training and support

Adequate training and support is key to helping your team understand the benefits of feature flags and how to use them effectively. DevCycle provides documentation, tutorials, and support (chat with us on Discord 👋) to help you get started with feature flags and optimize your software development workflows. 

7. Start small and show quick wins

You can’t implement feature flags and expect to go from releasing big features once a month to once a day in a week. We suggest you start with a small, low-risk project or feature to showcase the immediate benefits of feature flags. By starting small and delivering quick wins, you build confidence and trust within the team. Celebrate these successes and use them as motivation to expand feature flag adoption. 

(Celebrating is fun and all, but the goal is for feature flags to eliminate the ceremony of the release altogether. Eventually, you’ll get to a point where releasing code multiple times per day becomes woven into the fabric of your organization, and you’ll probably never celebrate another release again. You’ll just get started on the next one.)

8. Measure and communicate success

Track and measure the impact of feature flags on key metrics such as deployment time, bug rate, user engagement, or conversion rates. We like to use DORA Metrics to track the impact feature flags have on our team, but you can use whatever works best for your org. Communicate the success stories and positive outcomes resulting from feature flag implementation. Regularly share updates and progress with the team, reinforcing the value of their efforts and the impact they are making.

Wrapping up

Talking to your team about feature flags and getting them on board requires effective communication, education, collaboration, and support. By sharing your excitement, addressing concerns, starting small, and providing adequate training, you’ll pave the way for successful feature flag implementation.

And don't forget, the best way to share the magic of feature flags with your team is to just let them try them out themselves. Choose our free plan or a plan that best fits your needs. With DevCycle's usage-based pricing, you can invite your whole team to the platform and still pay less than other flag management tools. Get started today.

Written By

Madison Maher