Blog Feed Post

The nine traits of highly successful performance teams

The makeup of a performance team is largely dependent on the size and complexity of the organization, its website(s), and applications. There are a number of common roles and responsibilities that need to be addressed for measuring, testing and optimizing the performance of a web property. This includes building technical, analytical and project management expertise, as well as establishing meaningful, two-way communication with the business.

But skills without commitment does not create a culture.

A strong performance culture crosses organizational boundaries. Ideally, everyone owns performance. That said, the responsibility for performance typically lies with a particular team (or teams in a larger organization), often within Ops, and sometimes made up of contract resources.

So what works and what doesn’t? How does a strong team drive performance as part of the company ethos? And what teams don’t succeed?

There are three common types of performance teams:

  • Reporters
  • Policemen
  • Collaborators

I’m going to use the rest of this post to explain why Reporters and Policemen are inevitably less successful, and why Collaborators are the biggest winners.

The Reporters

Reporters believe their responsibility begins and ends with measuring and testing, often even deferring the determination of exactly what to measure and test to others: “tell us what to do and we’ll tell you the results”.

These teams are typically on an island. They have little or no ties with development or the business. They sit in the data center and report results, rarely involved in remediation or analysis to drive continuous improvement. For Reporters, meeting a set of (sometimes seemingly arbitrary) SLAs constitutes success.

Clearly there’s value in providing visibility. But with little to no associated action, you can hardly expect this team to drive cultural change.

The Policemen

With more executive backing and empowerment, Policemen — not unlike Reporters — are focused on finding the data. But as opposed to being passive with the results, they use information to drive action. They understand the goals/SLAs and often have an incentive to make sure they are met, whether or not they are the RIGHT goals. As a result, they are very good at pointing out issues.

However, Policemen are not as good at helping to determine how to address issues. And even more important, they typically can’t tell you what would have the greatest impact. Again, numbers are good. It’s useful to know that your home page is slow. But it’s more useful to know that it’s slow because of a third party add on; and even more valuable to know if that’s the best area to expend resources for improvement, given the business goals of the web site.

The Collaborators

First and foremost, successful teams have management support. Easily said, and obvious. But without a mandate across the organization, and a recognition of what poor performance can do to revenue and brand, a performance culture is impossible to build.

Assuming there is support, it is then the responsibility of the core team to drive that message throughout the organization. Again, while the company may want to establish a performance culture, that’s only possible if someone (or some team) owns it.

Here are the traits that make Collaborators so effective at driving performance throughout the company:

1. They have senior management’s agreement and support that performance is important, AND they take every opportunity to communicate what that means to the rest of the organization.

Like security, performance is impacted by everyone, from development to marketing. But these people need to know HOW they can affect performance. It’s the responsibility of the performance team to communicate how each department can help, in their language. The team must be the leading advocates for great performance!

2. They know that 80% of performance issues are a result of how the application or site is designed and built.

Catching issues early makes a massive difference in both the cost to remediate and the ultimate performance of a site. Are performance SLAs part of the design and architecture phase? Is the response time of the product search page or a particular service, for example, part of the design spec? Or is the performance part of user experience only considered once the integrated app can be tested?

3. They are consultative, with an ever-expanding understanding of everything that can improve and/or degrade performance across the entire ecosystem.

They are naturally curious, and collaborative. They work to understand the full depth and breadth of the application, website, infrastructure and architecture. They may not write code, but they can read it. They’re not DBAs, but understand the potential impact of queries, indexes and caching.

4. They educate and drive best practices into teams building and functionally testing features in development.

They may do this as part of either a center of excellence or agile team members, or both.

5. They build and buy tools to make life easier, for everyone.

They make sure teams put the right level of instrumentation in place to get the right data… particularly in an agile environment.

6. They work with release teams, development managers, test managers and other key stakeholders to create release criteria, goals and core milestones.

It doesn’t end there. They also ensure those goals and milestones are addressed, and that the right investments/tradeoffs are made.

7. They make data-driven decisions and use solid test methodology with complete transparency.

They correlate data from various teams and systems, including real user measurements, synthetic measurements, application performance monitoring tools, log files, etc. to get a complete view of performance.

8. They teach others how to fish.

But also do a lot of the fishing themselves (or at least set the hook and make it easy to ‘self-serve’).

9. They work 1:1 to address problem areas.

It’s not about sending out a list of issues and washing your hands of problems. It’s about collaborating with the DBA, architect, developer, marketer, and webmaster to come up with creative solutions.

The ideal Performance Team has some level of centralized control to drive best practices, common conventions and initiatives across the organization, even though many of the team members may be virtual: spread across the company. How and where team members report is going to be a function of the organizational structure, so care must be taken to avoid silos that fragment and impede progress.

No matter how big the team, there are a number of key roles involved in performance:

  • Program Management
  • Development Management
  • Performance Architects
  • Front-End Performance Analysts
  • Performance Engineers
  • Infrastructure and systems (network engineers, DBAs, etc.)
  • Testers
  • Data Scientists
  • Ops and Capacity Planning

Having worked with performance teams from hundreds of companies — ranging from one-man shops to large, cross functional teams — there is no “right” organizational structure. What is consistent in driving successful performance is ownership, passion, strong skills, organizational support and, of course, collaboration.

Get started

Okay, so you’ve bought into the importance of performance, and you’re committed to building a first-class team to drive it across the organization. Where do you start?

The first step is to understand where you are today. In my next post, I’ll talk about an Organizational Performance Maturity Index (OPMI) to help you determine the gap between your current state and reaching your performance goals.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By SOASTA Blog

The SOASTA platform enables digital business owners to gain unprecedented and continuous performance insights into their real user experience on mobile and web devices in real time and at scale.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices t...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to clos...
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...