September 12, 2018
You have no doubt heard about Application Performance Management (APM) and how internal IT teams are using APM to stay relevant in the face of competition brought about by shadow IT. So, let us take a look at three business benefits which APM will deliver to your organisation:
First, we will take a look at a few stories to bring the subject to life. Then, we will take a look at the detail behind each of the three business benefits.
It's Thursday morning in the office and everyone is busy. There are two people standing by a wall monitor in the help desk area. They are discussing how the average response time for the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application has took a turn for the worse. On a desk by the window, their colleague is logging the issue on the intranet. In a meeting on the floor above, a group of people from IT Operations are looking at the CRM application map. They quickly find the component which is causing the issue. One of the group clicks on the application discovery to open up more information. They find that a server with low disk space is the root cause.
Across the corridor, a salesperson is walking back from a client meeting. He turns on his computer and listens to it whirr in to action. As always, the company intranet opens up first. He notices an update – the CRM is running slowly. He draws a deep breath and opens up the CRM. He clicks his mouse a few times. It seems to work fine for him. He re-checks the intranet and sees an update – the CRM has resumed normal service.
In the office café, an IT Manager buys a coffee for a Procurement Manager. They are discussing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) interdependencies - in particular the relationships between inventory requirements and the ordering of new stock. The Procurement Manager says that she wants to know, at any time, whether her applications are working and how fast they are running. The IT Manager listens and makes a note to build a Service Status dashboard to show application availability and average response time. Whenever these applications become unavailable the Supply Chain Director will knock down the Procurement Manager's door.
Out of the café, and in the largest room in the building, a presentation is being given. The current slide lists complaints from the HR team about the recruitment process. Someone who works in IT Operations is delivering the talk. He explains how his team have used a range of methods, from synthetic testing of user events, through to real-user monitoring to identify the causes of the complaints.
One hour later, in the warehouse beneath the office, a worker is checking inventory levels. As he walks between the aisles, he updates the quantities for each stock keeping unit (SKU) via the ERP tool. But the application keeps crashing. He pulls out his phone and calls the IT help desk. They are aware of the issue and tell him that they expect it to take two hours to be resolved. They log his number and assure him an automated SMS will be sent when the issue is resolved.
On the third floor of the office, an IT Operations member is reviewing these IT related metrics for the ERP system. He notices high CPU usage in one server. Next to him, his colleague is analysing the application’s data to find the root cause of the issue. He finds a bug in the code. Less than two hours later, the issue with the inventory application is resolved. An SMS is sent to the warehouse worker. The Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) statistic on the wall-screen ticks down.
Ok, so now we have a feel for how APM delivers business benefits. Let us look at the detail behind the stories and understand how APM will increase your organisation’s sales, focus on end user experience and IT productivity.
Your sales colleagues are dependent on applications to do their job. If an IT component in a sales application breaks down - your CRM as an example - then prospecting will grind to a halt. Alternatively, in the world of B2C, if a customer cannot log in to their account, or even if it takes too long to do so, a legitimate intent to purchase could be lost. Google’s research has found that 53% of visitors on a mobile device leave if a site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. With APM by your side you'll be in much stronger position to support sales critical applications. By discovering, modelling and displaying your application architecture in real time - via a single console - you will be alerted to service problems before the calls hit your help desk.
To add to this, you shouldn't under estimate how technical performance can impact brand perception and application credibility. Whilst it's up to the business to conceptualise an idea - a slow or poorly performing application simply won't do. Conversely, a high-performing, technically savvy solution can quickly become a USP the sales team can use to butter up their prospects.
APM should focus your attention on end user experience wherever possible. This begins when you choose which metrics to monitor – and these should start with business needs. Unfortunately only 9% of IT organizations currently use business related metrics to measure success.
We previously mentioned metrics akin to server response time, however, without context this information lacks insight. Response time for what? Is this related to a key application or service? If so, get it fixed. If not, mark it as a low priority item. A focus on the end user experience allows organisations to test and monitor what really matters. Whether that is the synthetic testing of key user events, such as a portal logon, or real-user monitoring of sales critical pages, such as the checkout flow, you will gain an understanding of how to best manage an application.
In the enterprise environment, APM will enable IT teams to prioritise time and energy in line with service demand. Once you have modelled your applications, you can fine tune alerts so you're only notified when a critical service component is failing. This will put you in a position to separate those alerts which require your urgent attention, from those which can wait before being reviewed. In doing so, you will better maintain application availability and improve a key IT metric – MTTR.
And by aligning your team’s work to support service-centric goals, you will also increase collaboration. This will range from your development and test teams sitting together to expose new applications to real world conditions through load testing, all the way to analysts rooting around in data to find bugs and pass updates onto operational teams. By breaking down silos, IT teams can work together to improve application performance and stop customers switching to competitors, and stop employees from complaining to the help desk.
Hopefully you can now appreciate the exciting potential behind APM, in particular its ability to increase sales, focus IT teams on end user experience and improve IT productivity. If so, then we have listed a few handy resources below:
Want to read more? Check out our complete guide to APM.