Shipyard Engine

What is a Shipyard Engine?

A shipyard engine describes a product team’s process to keep its organization informed about the frequent updates the team ships.

It was coined by the B2B SaaS company Drift. This maker of conversational-marketing software operates under a continuous delivery (CD) and continuous integration (CI) model. Because of this process, they’re able to push out product updates to users frequently.

To help maintain its high efficiency and speed, Drift’s product team implemented several “engines” — lightweight, repeatable processes. One of those is the company’s rapid-communication process, called the shipyard engine.

What does it look like in practice?

For product managers or product teams running a CD/CI environment, keeping the rest of the organization updated about what they’re shipping can be complicated. Product updates can happen many times a day.

For this reason, Drift’s product team implemented its shipyard engine.

Here is how the process works:

Every time the engineering team ships something new, which happens between 5 and 15 times a day at Drift, their process is to send a message describing the update through the company’s Slack channel. For this reason, the team named this channel Shipyard.

Each Shipyard message goes out to everyone at Drift and includes the following details about the product update:

  • What the team shipped
  • Why they shipped it
  • Which users will have access to the shipped item

How can a Shipyard Engine Benefit the Business?

Implementing a simple process like Drift’s has several advantages:

  • It keeps everyone in the company up-to-date about product releases and improves company cohesion and therefore creates a sense of teamwork.
  • Each update includes the reasoning behind the shipment. Drift’s Shipyard Engine channel is a valuable archive of the company’s strategic thinking for all updates.
  • Because it gives everyone in the company a chance to see the work that the product and development teams are doing, it provides the departments enhanced visibility among their coworkers.

Should My Team have a Shipyard Engine?

If you are part of a product team operating in continuous delivery and continuous integration environment, or if your team ships product updates frequently and you want to communicate and memorialize each of these shipments, you should follow Drift’s example. Set up your version of a shipyard engine. Give everyone in your company the benefit of knowing each time you ship.

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