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Enterprise workflow automation at scale

Bekah Whittle
Bekah Whittle // Director, Field Services // GitHub

If you’ve already read our earlier modules you understand that the true potential of workflow automation isn't unlocked until you scale. But let's face it, scaling isn't just about making things bigger; it's about making them better—more efficient, more effective, and more in line with your business objectives. In this guide, we’ll walk you through three critical elements for success at scaling workflow automation, with guidance from HelloFresh on the importance of developer happiness for achieving success at scale.

In this guide, you will learn:

  • How to enable scalability through successful migration strategies

  • The benefits of hosted compute

  • How developer happiness provides exponential benefits

See migration as an opportunity to scale with GitHub Actions

When it comes to scaling with GitHub Actions, the first key to success is to develop a robust migration strategy. A key part of this is understanding that, while migration can be a logistical challenge, it represents an opportunity for improvement. Rather than simply replicating your existing setup, you can refine it and ensure it aligns with industry best practices. Now’s the time to shed technical debt, promote innersource, and establish effective workflows. A thoughtful migration process lays the groundwork for scalability, ensuring that your workflows don't merely grow, but thrive.

A manual migration can be time-consuming, especially if you’re moving from another CI/CD platform. To ease this process, GitHub offers an Actions Importer tool to help you forcast, plan, and ultimately migrate to Actions, and even provides a fast-track team to assist you. 

We’ll walk through considerations for developing an effective migration strategy in the next guide in this module.

The benefits of hosted compute

The second area to focus on when scaling with Actions is optimizing your compute solution. It's not just about running your workflows; it's about running them efficiently at scale. Actions provides Windows, iOS, and Linux runners, all completely maintained by GitHub, including software updates and security patches. GitHub-hosted runners are designed to scale, freeing you from management headaches, like setting up runner pools or developers having to wait on admin teams for availability. GitHub-hosted runners are quickly spun up and torn down as needed, allowing you to scale up to over 5,000 runners on a single repository. Creating and managing that sort of ephemeral infrastructure is a job on its own, and one you don’t need to do anymore with Actions and GitHub-hosted runners.

If you have specific security compliance needs, Actions offers the flexibility for self-hosting or bringing your own runners. But for most scenarios, hosted runners speed up processes and free up developer time. The bottom line is, hosted compute is a key element for any enterprise looking to scale its workflow automation effectively.

Developer happiness

The last but certainly not least factor to mention in scaling Actions is the impact on your developers. A smooth, efficient workflow isn't just a business asset; it's a catalyst for developer happiness. Why does this matter? Happy developers are productive developers, and when you're operating at scale, even small increases in productivity can lead to significant business gains.

With GitHub Actions, we’ve reduced the average pipeline length from over a thousand lines down to just around 100, which makes them much easier to understand. We've also seen a 40% decrease in CI-related queries, which has freed up valuable engineering time. In addition Actions’ user-friendliness has made it easy for our developers to adopt innersourcing, which has led to increased contributions across different engineering teams. Overall, adopting Actions has improved developer experience and engagement while reducing our support load.

Sanjito Kurniawan
Sanjito Kurniawan // Senior Platform Engineer // HelloFresh

People choose Actions because their developers love it. It minimizes resistance and keeps your development teams focused on delivering their best work. From the seamless setup of hosted runners to the efficient management of workflow automation, every aspect of Actions is designed to make developers' lives easier.

Never underestimate the role of developer satisfaction in your scaling strategy. It's not just about the technology; it's about the people who use it. If you create a work environment where developers feel supported and empowered, you'll find that scaling becomes a far more manageable task.

Up next: Planning for migration to GitHub Actions

Now that we've explored these three elements for scaling workflow automation with Actions, we'll go even deeper into migration strategies to ensure your transition is as seamless as possible.