Cortex: Building production ready tools 180% faster with Superblocks

The Superblocks Team

Multiple authors

April 11, 2023

5 min Read


Challenge: Customer management and onboarding

Cortex is a internal developer portal that helps engineering teams foster a culture of reliability and ownership, while letting them focus on building software for the business.

As a successful early stage SaaS company there are two main areas that the founders and investors are keenly focused on; building core product, and customer acquisition and growth. In order to maintain high velocity in both areas, staff should be laser focused on their areas of expertise:

  • Developers should be building the core product offering.
  • Sales, Customer Success, and Solutions Engineering teams should focus on building their customer base.

When Cortex looked to create internal tooling for managing customers, software licences, and managing mailing lists they identified the following challenges:

  1. Fast customer insight: Cortex Sales, Customer Success, and Solutions Engineers need to gain swift insight into the metadata and metrics of existing customers, as well as making sure that new customers were being onboarded quickly and accurately.
  2. Connect multiple services: The teams also need faster access to their postgres database, Salesforce CRM, and GitHub repositories to alter customer data within an easy to use UI.
  3. Automate processes: Manual processes consume bandwidth and are prone to error, a platform was needed that would allow them to migrate to automated processes.
  4. Security first design: With customer data being accessed and modified, security needs to be at the forefront of development.

In order to meet these challenges, they required internal applications which could provide a single source of information across multiple data sources. They also needed to be flexible to their security requirements due to dealing with sensitive customer data.

Previous state: Developer inefficiencies

Cortex was previously using Retool, however adoption was low and building out of applications difficult. The Sales Engineering team found that they needed to engage their developers to build applications. This had a marked impact on developer velocity which exchanged revenue-generating activity for supporting Retool build outs. The Cortex team knew they needed a retool alternative that their team could easily adopt.

Solution: Superblocks Applications to streamline a modern Saas company

1. Cortex customer management application

Cortex used Superblocks to build an internal customer application in just hours, enabling their Customer Success team to better serve clients, while allowing their developers to stay focused on building core product features.

"Superblocks provided a dynamic development environment that was very easy to use. If I needed a table, all I needed to do was drag one into the canvas and build it straight away with the data from our APIs. The best part was that I didn’t need to engage an engineer to do this for me."

Mike Moore
Head of Sales Engineering

By connecting into their existing Postgres database, Github, and Salesforce CRM, Cortex built an application that provided insight into their customers. Tasks such as updating account status, whitelisting domains, and setting values within Github became single click tasks. The team were even given the ability to dive into individual customer’s observability metrics in Datadog.

With security front of mind, Superblocks’ deep code-level RBAC is leveraged to ensure only select individuals have access to the customer data and are able to perform specific tasks.

Account management was no longer a manual process but one built on automation. Every transaction is logged automatically within Audit Logs so all changes can be tracked in detail on demand.

2. Cortex software licence generation

Cortex operates a per user licence model for their service, they also provide a cloud based or on-premise offering.  Tracking the user count to licence agreement ratio for the cloud customers was a simple task, however for their on-premise customers they were unable to track usage. This presented revenue implications which the team were keen to address. 

They had initially looked to engage their engineers to build out a self-built solution, however they quickly realised that they could achieve the same result in minutes via a Superblocks Application. The Head of Solutions Engineering was able to rapidly build out a production ready application to create JWT licences which capped the number of users which could be sent to their on-premise customers. 

Why Superblocks

  • Out of the box integrations and API calls to hundreds of services
  • Python and Javascript support providing code flexibility
  • Out of the box RBAC and Audit Logging
  • An intuitive building experience reducing build time from hours to minutes
  • Manual processes are no longer required, freeing engineering resources for revenue-generating activity

Future State: Move from manual to automated processes

The increased efficiency gained from building applications within Superblocks has allowed the engineers at Cortex to return to revenue generating work. The Solutions Engineering and Customer Success teams can work together with the knowledge that ideas can be built and iterated on in minutes rather than hours. They are keenly aware of the need to automate in order to remove more engineering bottlenecks.

Scheduled Jobs have been identified as a great opportunity to kick off marketing campaigns via Marqueto for users who have signed up within the previous hour.

Workflows will be used to transfer newly won customer’s trial accounts to active paid accounts, this process involves a number of changes in data including Salesforce. This will greatly reduce the time to convert customer accounts and also dramatically reduce the possibility of human error.

Stay tuned for updates

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The Superblocks Team

Multiple authors

Dec 13, 2023