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The five phases of performance maturity

In my last post I discussed the importance of building a performance culture and the common traits of first-class teams to drive that culture across the organization.

The first step in reaching any destination is to understand your starting point. This post establishes a framework for assessing the state of your organization’s commitment to performance. The goal is to help you determine the gap between your current state and reaching your performance goals.

See if you recognize your company in any of the following categories. Obviously, the characteristics below are not hard and fast, and some companies might be further ahead in specific areas. That said, Howard Chorney*, director of solutions architecture here at SOASTA, and his team have found these groupings of capabilities pretty consistent across organizations.

Phase 1: Reactive

In this phase, there is a limited awareness of end user experience and application performance. You find yourself constantly reacting to application performance issues in the production environment. There is little to no front-end monitoring and you find out about site issues from your customer base. Ad hoc “war rooms” are being formed, but there is no formal application performance testing process.

Phase 2: Aware

You have a basic awareness of application performance and can identify issues. However, the ability to mitigate those issues is limited and time consuming. While there is an understanding of a performance baseline and you can track performance trends, you’re still primarily reactive to issues in production. There is a performance testing team in place, however mapping test cases to real business scenarios is limited.

Phase 3: Efficient

Good visibility exists into front-end and back-end application performance. Effective problem resolution is in place, with deep dive diagnostics. Problems are identified and prioritized by business impact and a high percentage of problems are discovered and mitigated in a pre-production environment. More realistic testing scenarios have been created, however testing is still limited to behind the firewall. Basic level key performance indicators (KPIs) have been established.

Phase 4: Advanced

There is broad visibility and deep-dive diagnostics for front-end and back-end performance. Automation exists for problem identification, analysis and diagnosis. The majority of issues are identified during the application performance testing process, testing is being pushed left, and there is active testing of third-party services to understand the impact on end users. Initiatives are prioritized based upon the business impact, actively, testing in their production environment. Advanced level KPIs lead to actionable insights from the data.

Phase 5: Proactive

At this phase, your capabilities checklist, in addition to having many of the positive traits of the previous phases, also includes these:

  • Active management of front-end and back-end performance, leveraging realtime visibility to meet and exceed robust KPIs that are mapped to business impact.
  • Collective intelligence from across the organization is used to achieve business agility and competitive advantage.
  • Active continuous application performance testing is executed throughout the entire software development life cycle, including comprehensive production testing processes.
  • C-level leadership takes an active role, supporting the performance team in driving a culture where everyone takes ownership and pride in performance as a key attribute of every web and mobile property.

Next step: Assess your organization’s performance maturity

Ultimately, the goal is to drive a continuous cycle of improvement by measuring, testing and optimizing performance. This means the right people (as described in my previous post), tools, and processes are in place, and these are constantly under evaluation for opportunities to enhance performance.

Given the ever-changing nature of applications and technology — as well as the clear connection between performance and business impact — the opportunity and need for performance improvement will never end.

Did you recognize your company in any of the above categories?

Take this short survey and find out your Organizational Performance Maturity Score (OPMI).

*Howard also runs the PerfBytes podcast, which I strongly recommend you check out.

Related reading

Complete Guide to Performance Testing Retail Websites and Apps

Read the original blog entry...

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