How to Pitch a Rails Upgrade to Your Boss (Without Any Tech Speak)

If you’re a developer you know the reasons why you should be using the latest Rails framework. You understand the implications of performance gains, dependency issues and unsupported versions.

But these big picture benefits get lost in translation when talking to non-technical executives. What they need to know is the business case for an upgrade, how the work will translate into increased revenue.

So, here is an article to use or forward to communicate why an upgrade should be a priority. We also wrote an article on the more technical reasons if you are interested.

Old Rails = Decaying Equipment

At an overall level, using an old Rails framework is like a restaurant letting its kitchen fall apart.

The customers won’t see the rusted grills held together with duct tape. But orders will get delayed and grease traps will overflow, so chefs will struggle to cook quality meals and eventually quit.

Similarly, users won’t see the ancient Rails version held together with monkey patches. But the app will get less reliable, shipping small changes will take longer than usual and your developers will get increasingly frustrated.

Upgrading Rails is about having the necessary tools to provide a high-quality experience. If projects keep overrunning, then it could be due to your old “equipment”.

More time spent building features, not fixing issues

Supported versions are actively maintained by the community. That means any bugs or security issues will be automatically fixed.

With unsupported versions, these issues become your responsibility.

Running an old version means your developers are regularly having to fight fires that wouldn’t occur in supported versions. Even worse, these emergencies might be happening during evenings and weekends which means interrupting their free time.

Upgrading to a Rails version would improve reliability, freeing up time to build the new features that are crucial to your business.

Attract and retain talented developers

The best developers want to spend time building great features, not helping to squeeze performance improvements from an outdated framework.

So imagine a job candidate’s reaction when they hear about your old Rails version. It becomes a warning sign that they will have to spend their days patching bugs and security issues. Your job offer becomes significantly less appealing.

And if you do hire them, they will be keeping an eye out for other jobs where they won’t have their free time interrupted with emergencies that shouldn’t have required their input.

So if you are having issues with hiring and retaining developers, upgrading Rails will remove a big stumbling block.

New features with each version

New Rails versions come with a set of new features that applications can be built with.

Some will bring obvious benefits, such as Action Text providing text formatting controls for your users. Others can help in the background, such as Active Storage which makes it easier to upload files to cloud based systems.

By falling behind in your Rails version, you are also missing out on opportunities to improve the product experience in significant ways for your users.

Reduce your server running costs

Millisecond improvements to performance might not sound like a big deal, like they’re too small to notice.

But it’s not just about quicker response times for users.

The performance boost you get from updating your Rails and Ruby versions should reduce the load on your server, meaning significant cost reductions. If the average latency is reduced by 50% then you can spend 50% on your servers thanks to something called Little’s Law.

Rails upgrades are an investment

It would be a mistake to look at a Rails investment as an inconvenient expense.

Instead it is an investment that pays a range of dividends. The return is in the freed up time, employment advantages and reduced running costs.

A strict ROI is difficult to estimate, but it certainly pays off in the long run.

Want specialist help with your upgrade?

Hopefully both you and your boss now understand why a Rails upgrade is important and they’re asking you how to get it done.

If you want to upgrade your application without delaying your product development, then hire FastRuby.io. We have upgraded over 80 applications since 2012 and specialize in upgrading large applications without interrupting the development team.

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