Tracking 100,000+ Volunteer Hours on a Scalable Platform

Summary

Track it Forward, formerly Our Volts, is a tool for organizations to track volunteer efforts. Founded in 2009 by James McBryan and Anca Mosoiu, Track it Forward aims to encourage community volunteer work by tracking hours and organizing rewards. They use Pantheon to run their Drupal site because they know it will grow alongside their business.

In early 2012, Track it Forward co-founder James McBryan had become very aware that their site’s hosting solution wasn’t capable of scaling alongside the company. In an effort to save both time and money, he turned to Pantheon to manage their growing site.

Everyone was looking for the silver bullet in hosting. I originally had my own setup—and that was fine—until we needed to scale. I knew Pantheon would meet all of my needs and grow for the future.

When McBryan decided it was time to choose a professional solution, Pantheon was the obvious answer. He had previously worked with Pantheon Co-Founder Josh Koenig on Project Mercury, a pre-configured Drupal+Varnish EC2 AMI, helping to develop a way of deploying the same stack to Rackspace back in 2009, and knew Pantheon was the solution he had neither the time nor resources to build on his own. He migrated the Track it Forward site seamlessly and has been thrilled with the platform’s speed and ability to scale.

A Side Project Becomes a Business

McBryan and Mosoiu started Track it Forward in 2009 while McBryan was also running a small Drupal dev shop. Early on, the consultancy didn’t have many clients, so he had used Track it Forward as a project to help hone his development skills. After running the agency for a few years, McBryan decided it was time to dive full-time into Track it Forward as the project gained momentum.

Currently, Track it Forward tracks hours for over 400 active clients—from small grassroots organizations to enterprise-level nonprofits. They are currently focused on government matching grants and service hour requirements for schools.

“I was just getting into Drupal when we started Track it Forward,” McBryan said. “I was using it as a project to become a better developer. I never imagined it would take off like it did—we’ve tracked over two million hours since we started, and we’re growing each month. We currently track upwards of 100,000 hours a month. We’re seeing submissions every couple of seconds.”

A Smooth Migration Leaves Server Worries Behind

Prior to moving the Track it Forward site over to Pantheon, McBryan was developing scripts and managing servers on his own, an effort that required a significant amount of maintenance each week. He was well aware of Pantheon’s offering from working with Koenig to set up the Rackspace version of Project Mercury, and was confident in the platform’s ability to meet his needs.

It was obvious that Pantheon was, and is, the future.

McBryan migrated the site over and closed shop on their previous setup. He ended up moving over all of his remaining client sites as well. “The migration was super easy,” McBryan said. “We just had to swap the domain—it went off without a hitch. We had no downtime at all.”

McBryan noted two significant selling points:

  1. No need to maintain a server. “This is huge,” he said. “Especially when you need to scale. It means not having to hire someone extra. I’m essentially outsourcing systems engineering to Pantheon. It’s one less thing to worry about, one less thing to take up my time.”

  2. Workflow, redefined. “When you want to test something, the workflow is super easy,” McBryan said. “No one can make it that easy running on their own systems. Pantheon’s Git integration saves me so much time.”

A Scalable Platform Fit for a Growing Company

“Our business has to grow organically,” McBryan said. “Pantheon has been a lifesaver. They’ve allocated resources to fix things when necessary, and support is wonderfully responsive. We’ve saved a lot in ops costs thanks to Pantheon.”

On Pantheon, McBryan is confident that as Track it Forward scales, the site will keep up. He has launched over 20 sites on the platform, in addition to Track it Forward, and can confidently take on newer, bigger clients with peace of mind. “Our new clients are much bigger,” he said. “Some have up to 100,000 volunteers. If I were on my own server, I’d potentially have to say no to these clients. I just wouldn’t have the technical ability that Pantheon gives me. I feel confident when making sales—I know Pantheon can handle it.

Benefits

  • No need to maintain a server

  • An integrated workflow saves time and frustration

  • Easily manage 100,000+ volunteer hours a month

  • Outsourcing sysadmin to Pantheon saves ops costs

  • Able to take on larger clients confidently