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Selling the value of your APM investment to your business

Application performance management tools provide a great value to the business; from accelerating the root-cause analysis process, to measuring the customer experience, and providing business transaction dashboards. When used properly they can provide alerting and trending information so you find out whether the change to the application or system did no harm, some harm or really caused a problem.

In my position, as a performance engineer and a cranky one sometimes, I have used many different APM tools and diagnostic tools. These tools are usually brought into the company to help solve an immediate production performance or stability problem.  It starts with the developer, engineer, or operations person or team, who have to solve the problem. The system is slow. An APM tool is used during a free-download period or a vendor is used for a proof-of-concept and the problem is solved.  However, there is no budget at the time as the tool was not identified last year. So, the people on the ground are stuck, no APM tool. I think there is an opportunity here to enhance the standard corporate desktop or laptop to add an end-user monitoring or measurement tool, such as YSlow, HTTPWatch or Dynatrace to name a few.

In these cases, no one really knows why the system is slow, in fact, they usually can’t even tell you what they mean by slow, is it 5 seconds, 10, or 42 seconds. It is amazing that this is still the rule in most fortune 1,000 companies. The issue is that a Corporate  end-user cannot download and install any software on the corporate laptop or desktop.  With web performance tools (YSlow, Dynatrace, HTTPWatch, et al) having the ability to download and instantly measure the response times of web transaction, SLOW can be measured.

As a technologist, you know implicitly that the APM investment  will provide value, save time, allow for better use of all resources, and provide some great looking dashboards. So, just buy the tool. However, there are budget keepers who are not as informed a you, the performance engineer, and they don’t understand the value.  So, with hat in hand, you need to find the money.

Know your business

Let’s talk about business value and business benefit.  What are the goals of your business this year? If you are in insurance, Is it to capture the business of more Independent Agents? If you sell on the web then you know that faster response times mean increased revenue. What if you run a distribution center, what is the goal there? The business goal is to increase revenue and the Distribution Center must move more orders. That requires a highly available environment and a responsive environment. Don’t forget call centers.

Understand the business motivation for performance and user experience dashboards.  There a number of third party companies that monitor the performance of web sites across industries to establish benchmarks. The business maybe motivated to move up in the Benchmark and understand that some investment is needed.

Your homework: Go find your company business goals; there should be 4-6 of them.

Payback period, direct benefit and indirect benefit

Technology often gets caught in the budgeting process when you cannot clearly link the investment (purchase) to a business goal and benefit.  Many technologies are far away from revenue or cost reduction, and how do you quantify flexibility? The ability to invest in technology and the willingness to invest in technology varies greatly by industry and by the type of application. Online web retailers relentlessly work to improve the user experience and user performance, the business understands the connection to performance and revenue. They can quickly justify the investment in APM solutions.

Direct benefit: The APM investment you are making will improve the application performance and customer experience for the Independent Agents. This is lined up with the company goal to attract more Independent  Agents and increase revenue.  If the business can attract 15% more IA then revenue increases by XXX%.

Indirect benefit: The APM investment will defer technology (Server) purchases for two quarters.  If the business has a cost containment goal then this will align with it.

Payback period: There will be an initial investment required ($100K), recurring charges ($15), and one time training expenses.  Based on your direct and in-direct benefits, how long is the payback period?

Your homework: Does your APM investment provide a direct benefit or an in-direct benefit?  How long will the payback period be?

Thanks.