How to Identify Performance Problems

Is your company experiencing costly IT performance slowdowns? These operational and infrastructural pointers can help.

On this blog, we recently covered the crash that took down ESPN’s Fantasy Football app, as server shortages prevented the app’s 7.1 million users from accessing their roster on opening day. While the scale of ESPN’s server shortage may have been noteworthy, performance problems such as these can arise for any company, regardless of its size.

IT performance problems quickly lead to lost profits and frustrated management. Luckily, there are simple ways to anticipate and correct for these issues. By taking a holistic approach to performance monitoring — focusing not only on app performance, but also on employee behavior, office operations, and budgeting — you can start identifying problems before they arise.

Bolstering Company-Wide Communication

Poor communication continues to be the top contributor to performance problems. According to a recent Calanet survey, only 28% of European IT leaders think that they understand the needs of the wider business, and only 26% think that the business has a complete understanding of the IT department. This prevents many IT departments from reaching their full potential: a Towers Watson study found that companies with very effective communication report 47% higher total returns to shareholders than companies with less effective communication.

For some companies, bringing in a Chief Analytics Officer may be an ideal way to identify and solve for communication issues across departments: the role is uniquely positioned to help craft a unified language and mission for the entire company. For many, a business value dashboard (BVD) is more than enough. BVDs work to simplify IT analytics into language accessible to the wider business, so IT functions can be properly understood by top management and business leaders.

Accurate Budgeting

Another way that BVDs can identify performance problems is by providing a portal into the business’s budgeting. As TechTarget’s Adam Fowler recently wrote, “Projects never go 100% smoothly, and a buffer on resources' time should be built into a project to allow for this — often around 50% more than you think you need.” This is true, but accurate budgeting is made much easier when you can track metrics pertaining to past spend and waste.

If you are routinely under-budgeting for your IT needs, you should make sure to allocate more resources in the future. On the other hand, if your BVD shows that your are routinely over-provisioning, it likely makes sense to scale down.

Planning for the Inevitable

No matter how much time you spend building up your IT infrastructure, it will inevitably experience some problems and bottlenecks — the goal is to ensure that these small hiccups don’t lead to a serious issue.

One way to test for infrastructural resilience and future performance problems is to induce operational failure. Software like Netflix’s Chaos Monkey intentionally breaks some part of your IT environment to test its self-healing capacities. If your infrastructure doesn’t heal or adjust to circumvent the issue, you can expect future outages to throw your IT operations way off-track.

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