~500 runs / week
Ambrook is the leading financial management platform for the agricultural industry with a focus on sustainability and profitability. The platform offers manufacturing-grade financial tools including accounting, bill pay, invoicing, embedded banking, and spend management with a proprietary card. In May 2022, Ambrook raised a Series A round led by Thrive Capital with participation from Homebrew, Designer Fund, BoxGroup, Dylan Field (CEO, Figma), and others.
Ambrook uses Airplane to automate manual workflows & eliminate engineering bottlenecks. Using Airplane Tasks and Views, they've been able to automate tasks like onboarding new users, updating user settings, and managing payment operations efficiently and securely.
One-off scripts lead to engineering bottlenecks
Ambrook’s seven-person engineering team is responsible for a lot of critical operations: provisioning new users, turning on new features, running one-off scripts, supporting non-technical teams with onboarding, maintaining their platform, and more.
Before using Airplane, Ambrook’s engineers would write and run one-off scripts and endpoints to help non-technical teams perform operations like customer onboarding, updating user settings, running payment operations, and more. Since it wasn’t practical to build in-app flows for each of their customer operations, the engineering team made changes directly to their database to support customers effectively. These changes required Ambrook’s engineers to navigate between their database editing UI and various scripts to ensure data accuracy and consistency.
As customer activity continued to increase on their platform, limited resources on the engineering team quickly created a technical bottleneck.
No-code tools proved to be ineffective
Ambrook first tested a no-code solution to improve their internal tooling processes. Although the solution initially worked for the lean engineering team, it proved to be challenging as the Ambrook team grew over time for a couple of key reasons:
- Complicated integrations: Ambrook needed a solution that provided a fast time-to-value to keep up with their growing customer base. The no-code tool made integrating with Firebase Auth and Firestore databases challenging as sharing common logic reliably between screens was clunky. This was a major barrier for engineers feeling comfortable creating any new screens with the tool.
- Complex to learn: The no-code tool was very different from the stack the engineering team used to develop their features. This made it challenging to learn and realize value quickly for new engineers. The tool also required several time-consuming training sessions in order to understand how to use it effectively, taking up precious (and limited) engineering time.
As Ambrook scaled and customer activity picked up, the engineering team realized that they needed a better solution to manage their internal tools effectively. “We were spending significant amounts of time running one-off scripts, making manual edits for our operations team, and ensuring data consistency across sources,” said Brian Shin, a Software Engineer at Ambrook. In order to eliminate these technical bottlenecks, Ambrook looked for a new solution that was developer-focused and aligned with how their engineering team already functioned.
Airplane’s developer-first approach helped remove technical bottlenecks
When Ambrook’s team found Airplane, they immediately jumped in and transformed their existing one-off scripts into Airplane Tasks. Brian shared that, “Airplane was easy to use because we didn’t have to change how we were already working. Writing Tasks felt very familiar to building React components in our app, so it was easier for developers to learn.” Ambrook chose Airplane because of its feature-set fit with their existing workflows. These features included:
- Single, unified platform for scripts: Airplane made it easy to see and execute all one-off scripts and REST endpoints in one place. Airplane’s support for BigQuery and GraphQL allowed Ambrook to easily integrate with both and start building internal operations right away.
- Fast time-to-value: Building in Airplane was very fast and easy for the Ambrook team since the code-based approach was familiar and fit in well with their existing work style. Since Ambrook had a single Typescript monorepo, it was easy to onboard onto Airplane and required very little additional setup for new engineers. Getting new teammates up and running on Airplane quickly meant they were able to start contributing right away.
- Alignment with existing tech stack: Airplane’s native support for React and Typescript made it easy for the Ambrook team to jump right into internal tool building.
- Powerful UI builder: Airplane Views provided a highly opinionated UI system that sped up the development time of building internal tools. Since Views are just another directory in Ambrook’s monorepo, the Ambrook team was able to simply import shared business logic and type conversion code without having to maintain duplicate copies or translate that logic into another programming language.
- Robust audit logging: All Task executions are automatically logged in Airplane. This made it simple for engineers to track run histories for their non-technical teams and ensure operations were executed safely and securely.
With Airplane, Ambrook has been able to completely eliminate many of the engineering bottlenecks they faced previously. Airplane’s code-first approach made the process of moving their existing scripts onto the platform quick and easy, and has made it simple for Ambrook’s operations team to support new products and features.
Ambrook uses Airplane for several operational processes within their organization, including:
- Onboarding new users: The process of onboarding new users, such as farms and their employees, took multiple steps that required clicking into and provisioning various products and apps, such as the Firestore UI, manual command line scripts, and Ambrook’s BaaS provider’s dashboard. With Airplane, Ambrook was able to build out a single UI that used a form to collect all of the necessary data for onboarding new users such as their name and time zone. From there, the team could add new users with a single click in Airplane, dramatically streamlining the onboarding process.
- Editing product suites: When new users onboard onto the platform, Ambrook’s engineers must go into their settings and select which parts of the Ambrook product suite, such as bookkeeping or accounting and invoicing, they have access to. Ambrook was able to build an Airplane UI that allowed their teams to toggle product suites on and off directly in the interface. A process that used to be time-consuming and manual, now only took a few minutes to complete.
- Updating user settings: Ambrook built an Airplane View that made it easy to update user permissions, such as admin or accountant, within their farming organization. These permissions were important to ensure the right employees had access to the correct financial data. A process that used to be tedious to complete on a per-user basis was now easy to execute using Airplane.
- Payment operations: Ambrook facilitates a large volume of payments, particularly checks, as a part of their solution. They built an Airplane View that makes it easy to debug any payment issues with their customers’ checks, such as unclear signatures, incorrect dates, and more. By centralizing payments in one UI, Ambrook’s engineers didn’t need to manually run one-off scripts for the operations team to fix payment issues, eliminating technical bottlenecks and empowering their non-technical teams to run payment operations themselves.
- Running one-off operations: Ambrook has been using Airplane to handle one-off operations like charging Ambrook membership fees, adding advisors to an organization, fetching connected account lists, and more.
Ambrook executes hundreds of runs per week across several Tasks and Views. As Brian noted, “Airplane has helped us create internal tools quickly by providing a developer-centric experience. We’ve been able to empower our non-technical teams to run their own operations securely, minimizing the time we spend on running one-off scripts for them.” Ambrook continues to add operations to their Airplane account to keep their team moving quickly and securely as they build and scale their company.