According to Forrester, 64 percent of businesses are dissatisfied with the time it takes to release new features for customers. Brand loyalty has given way to customer loyalty; to drive it, organizations must focus on customers and their experiences using their products and services. As a result, organizations of all sizes need to make customer experience their highest priority.
To many business leaders, the speed of rolling out new updates is the most important part of satisfying customer expectations, maintaining customer loyalty and staying ahead of the competition. At the same time, user expectations for fast and reliable digital experiences across platforms continue to increase. As a result, development teams are pushing out service updates faster than ever before while trying to minimize any degradation of the experience as they move at a quickened pace.
But with heightened and persistent focus on rollout speed, it is easy to forget that the overall user digital experience is critical to maintaining customer loyalty. Businesses must integrate their focus on performance testing with their DevOps workflows to make sure speedy product rollouts don’t come at the expense of customer experience. So how should businesses ensure strong delivery processes to both improve customer experiences and drive efficiency in the application development and delivery pipeline?
Performance Starts with Constant Measurement in Unit Testing
DevOps, as does Agile, breaks down testing into smaller chunks. Each new rollout has an iterative impact on the application or website. Whether good or bad, the results stack up. Customers may demand certain new features, but user experience will suffer if each update that meets that demand slows down the application more and more over time.
Testing these units is very important and setting performance SLAs per unit per build is the first step to a performance culture. Organizations with a mature performance culture will turn back code if it doesn’t meet their performance SLA, keeping it from ever reaching QA.
This is Not an Either/Or — It is an And
DevOps teams are very good at rolling out rapid iterations of products and features, but without careful consideration, the pace of those updates can build momentum for digital experience failure. There are false positives in DevOps testing. With unit tests constantly passing, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. It’s not the fault of the DevOps engineers or QA; they are working within an established process that is designed to sniff out errors on a per-build basis. But what happens when you put it all together? Organizations start to forget about end-to-end testing and can see failures when the application is stressed by heavy demand, when it really matters during critical business events like Black Friday, live sporting/news events, product launches, or changes in financial markets. Teams implementing DevOps-style testing must remember to test all the “units” working together end to end. This needs to be part of the DevOps workflow but is often being forgotten.
What You Can’t See Can Hurt You
Testing for performance in the development lab can help mitigate some of these performance issues before they get out in the wild. But it’s overly optimistic to think that you’ll catch everything. Delivery teams need to constantly maintain visibility in the real-world use of their applications with real-time real user monitoring to alert them of any degradation in the experience during or just following a release. A quick response can help mitigate a larger detrimental impact to the business, and the fidelity of real-user data gives assurance there aren’t any blind spots so you can fail fast, and shorten time to resolution. The web is a wild place, and users have sneaky ways of finding their way into and through your app that you may not foresee when building your test plan. You can use this real user data that you’ve collected while monitoring to create more realistic test plans that will truly replicate real-world browsing behavior.
This data can also inform the development team about the impact of design decisions on performance in each new update. They can prioritize which parts of the site or app to fix based on what would be most impactful to the business and weigh that against plans to build out new features aimed to enhance functionality. The key factor is an understanding of the business impact of performance and using that to guide and prioritize development resources to achieve the best possible results.
Adopting a methodology to monitor, optimize and validate ongoing enhancements to your application can help with the continuous improvement of user experiences and give your development efforts a customer focus. DevOps teams have a responsibility to the user experience and should consider how it correlates to business impact. Faster time to market is important, but as important is making sure the customer experience continuously improves as well. Uniting cloud delivery with DevOps workflows and keeping performance in mind will put your business on the path to ensuring both faster rollouts and superior user experiences.