With YoY growth up by over 800%, Slack helps LetsGetChecked to collaborate at scale

‘I could see the immediate value of Slack, and it’s become even more important as we’ve scaled. It’s where we bring everyone to the table and manage our work from end to end.’

Javier de Vega RuizChief Software Engineer, LetsGetChecked

Peter Foley founded LetsGetChecked in 2015 to make healthcare more accessible to all. He believed that at-home testing could lower the number of hospital visits and surgeries, and even uncover conditions that might otherwise go undiagnosed.

The virtual care company began with a handful of employees working out of a house in the Dublin suburb of Dún Laoghaire. Today, it owns its entire product life cycle (from production and dispatch to lab testing and results), has expanded into the US and the UK, and has raised USD $114 million in total funding. In 2020, LetsGetChecked started offering Covid-19 tests – it has shipped over one million so far – and its sales rose by more than 800%.

Javier de Vega Ruiz, LetsGetChecked’s chief software engineer, witnessed that remarkable success first-hand. When he started in 2016, there were just two people in the development department. Now there are 130, and the department’s remit has expanded considerably. De Vega Ruiz soon realised that email wasn’t suited to the company’s fast-paced growth, and he introduced Slack as LetsGetChecked’s messaging platform.

He initially used it to have quicker, more collaborative discussions with the busy core management team, but as the dev department expanded, Slack became central to its operations, as well. With the addition of Slack apps such as GitHub, Slack is now where the dev department manages its entire software development cycle from end to end.

De Vega Ruiz also wanted a scalable, secure communications solution that he could extend company-wide. LetsGetChecked does much of its business in the US, so it needs to comply with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and protect the privacy and security of its customers’ health information. Because Slack can be easily configured to support HIPAA-compliant message and file collaboration, it was the obvious choice.

Now every LetsGetChecked department – sales, development, engineering, marketing, customer support and nursing – uses Slack, and it has become the company’s digital HQ. It acts as a command centre for incident management, so service reliability stays on point at all times. Salespeople are having productive, cross-functional conversations and closing more deals, while developers are shipping quality code within shorter time frames.

Here’s a look at how Slack has kept pace with the needs of this fast-scaling company and fundamentally changed how work gets done.


With cross-functional collaboration, deals get closed faster

In 2020, LetsGetChecked started using Slack across the entire company, and it has transformed how employees communicate.

‘It’s a lot more streamlined,’ says Graham Carrick, LetsGetChecked’s VP of e-commerce. ‘There’s a place for everything, from direct messages and team channels, to channels for tech alerts and incident resolution.’

Slack channels – a central place for sharing messages, tools and files – are also where different teams collaborate. The marketing team shares its weekly reports, salespeople post links to opportunities in Salesforce and everyone offers congratulations when a big deal goes through.

‘It has bridged the gap between departments. By looping all relevant parties into the conversation, we’ve gained a greater understanding of what our customers want. It has really unlocked team selling for us,’ Carrick says.

Before Slack, communications even within the sales department itself were siloed, which made sharing information difficult. Now, there are Slack channels for every team, as well as a commercial team channel that is open to all.

‘We use channels for information sharing; it’s fast, informal and everyone benefits from it,’ Carrick says.

If there is a big contract in the pipeline, the relevant sales team will create a new channel and invite everyone involved to join it. Complex deals require cross-functional collaboration, which includes not only salespeople, but representatives from teams such as engineering, tech, product design, dispatch and legal.

The channel provides a centralised place to share notes and tasks and post progress updates. It’s also where salespeople can get approvals and advice from other departments, so deals get closed faster.

‘One of our recent deals started with three people in the channel and went to 20 after we got a request for proposal. It allows us to keep the momentum going. When I put an update up in the Slack channel, it gets significantly quicker engagement than email,’ Carrick says.

In fact, the company’s salespeople now use Slack for most aspects of their day-to-day work. Carrick is a fan of the Jira Cloud integration, which delivers project updates directly into Slack and allows him to reply on the spot.

‘I’ve actually turned off my Jira emails because they were just arriving constantly, it was too much. Now I just check that Slack channel twice a day, and it’s far easier to manage,’ Carrick says.

Slack is also where LetsGetChecked onboards its new salespeople. When new employees start, they get added to the relevant channels right away, so they can look back over previous messages and documents to see how deals get done.

Graham Carrick

‘Slack gets people up to speed in double-quick time, so they can be productive from day one. It’s also a simple way of introducing them to the wider team, especially when we’re not all working from one place.’

Graham CarrickVP of E-Commerce, LetsGetChecked, LetsGetChecked

Streamlining incident management with Slack

LetsGetChecked uses a number of monitoring and support apps, and all the incident alerts that these apps produce are piped directly into the public Slack channels. Anyone who’s available to help can take action immediately, while anyone who needs to know, such as business stakeholders, has early visibility into the issue.

Before Slack, the dev teams had to continually check a number of different tools to keep the incident management process on track, which was time-consuming and inefficient. Now that all alerts are piped into channels, things run more smoothly. A recent production incident is a case in point.

‘One of our services went down, and we got an alert into a Slack channel through Grafana,’ de Vega Ruiz says. ‘We could then check the deployment channel to see if it had been deployed recently – it hadn’t, but another service had gone live that might be affecting it.’

The developers opened up a new channel where they coordinated on how they would deal with the issue. As they worked, they continued to get notifications that helped them to pinpoint the root cause and get it fixed quickly.

The dev teams use a host of Slack integrations, including Splunk, PagerDuty, Cloudwatch AWS, Grafana and Zabbix. LetsGetChecked’s own platform is made up of many autonomous service applications, and they all have different release cycles. They connect with the Jenkins CI Slack app, which feeds all their deployment notifications into the #pub-deployments channel.

‘Setting up deployment notifications was one of the first things I did in Slack. In the early days, we were working closely together, but some of the members of the core team had to travel a lot,’ de Vega Ruiz says. ‘The notifications proved to be very useful for getting their immediate feedback, and they drove some of the early automation of the company.’

‘We use a lot of different software to monitor our systems, so we used to do a lot of logging in and out. Slack notifications alert us to the things we need to care about and help us improve our service reliability.’

Javier de Vega RuizChief Software Engineer, LetsGetChecked

Managing software development from end to end

LetsGetChecked has integrated its most-used software development apps right in Slack, so it can build better code and ship it faster. It uses:

  • Jira Cloud to create backlogs, prioritise items and allocate them to engineers
  • GitHub as a source control tool
  • Jenkins to build its own pipelines
  • Gitflow for branching and merging work

‘Having our tools in Slack allows us to route information to the most relevant people,’ de Vega Ruiz says. ‘Updates from where our code lives, new backlog items and any alerts from our multiple monitoring systems are all collated together in channels that help our engineers close tasks and deal with issues faster.’

Certain code sections, such as the database code for particular projects, have owners. If a section gets changed, it triggers a review of both the code and the database administrator in Slack.

‘That cycle of creating a task in Jira and creating a branch for that task, applying those changes, opening up a pull request (PR) and then the PR triggering a continuous integration build and a review on that, is all orchestrated in Slack,’ de Vega Ruiz says.

As well as speeding up work, Slack has changed how the dev teams connect with one another and the wider company. Every dev team has its own private channel, a safe space where members can discuss issues freely, collaborate and ask for help.

‘We also have channels that are more cross-functional for those efforts that span multiple teams,’ de Vega Ruiz says. ‘In some cases, they are project-based, and we archive them when the project is closed. In other cases, we have them for a single cross-functional purpose, like putting TechOps, DevOps and developers together to look at how load affects their systems, so we can make sure that capacity is provisioned appropriately.’

The public dev channel is where other employees can get in touch with the dev teams with questions; the answers are made public as well, so more people can benefit from them.

‘We’ve grown a lot in the last 12 months, and many of us have never met in person. Slack has helped us transcend locations and time zones and really get to know each other,’ de Vega Ruiz says.

‘With Slack, we can track agile tasks, pull requests and build statuses in a single place and make sure that the right people are kept in the loop. Overall, it saves us hours every day.’

Javier de Vega RuizChief Software Engineer, LetsGetChecked

A collaborative and inclusive sales culture improves win rates

LetsGetChecked is on a serious growth trajectory. Last year, it raised USD $71 million in its oversubscribed Series C funding round, and it has grown more than 800% year on year. As the company continues to innovate and expand, Slack will become more valuable than ever, says Carrick. ‘We have a lot of different moving parts within our company, and with 60% of us in Ireland and 40% in the US, we need to have a place where we can all collaborate and move work forward,’ he says. ‘We get that with Slack.’