Modern web applications are technically complex and consist of a large number of different hardware components, software applications, network connections and a wide range of different skills and knowledge. In a large enterprise, that automatically means that the ownership of all of these parts is distributed across the organization and even across multiple infrastructure and service providers.
This means that changing something is often difficult to achieve and it involves a lot of meetings to align priorities, find budget, get the right people on board and last but not least, getting things done. We all know the large numbers of program and project managers that work on this full-time.
The technical performance of a website is something highly volatile as almost all changes that are made to the content, the CMS, the underlying infrastructure or third party objects can (and will) have an impact. Marketing campaigns, entering new markets, launching new products and even technical problems on competitors’ websites can result in extreme fluctuations in the number of users which will also impact your performance and thus your revenue stream and profits.
Excellent performance is not the result of being lucky but of good design and architecture, careful planning, development and testing, hiring the right people and using the right tools. As more and more companies go agile, this is no longer a project but something that happens continuously, day in, day out.
Catchpoint is in the unique position where we work with many of the leading eBusiness companies and have a good understanding of how they try to meet these challenges. Roughly, we can identify two different ways of working.
The first was is represented by those companies where performance is a soft checkmark that is validated late in the delivery process. Performance is not a show stopper as time to market takes precedence. For these organizations, performance management is often reactive and thus involves a lot of firefighting and troubleshooting in production.
The second way of working is fundamentally different. Here excellent performance is one of the key requirements right from the start and carefully tested and monitored in all stages of the development process. Performance budgets are defined and communicated and all stakeholders understand that quality cannot be compromised.
These companies often use a senior level manager to create a performance driven culture throughout the organization and to monitor actual performance. This manager has the budget and the resources to continuously optimize bottlenecks in the value chain pro-actively.
Maybe the time has come to introduce a Chief Performance Officer and take this responsibility up to the executive level?
By: Peter van Gils
Peter is a Catchpoint Web Performance Enthusiast based in Luxembourg.