How I failed my company as a monitoring architect.

October 03 2013

picard-facepalmI didn’t realize it until recently but now I know that I failed one of my previous companies when I was their monitoring architect. It’s not easy to admit past failures but it’s an important part of growing as a professional and as a person. Before I explain how I failed let me provide some short background.

Filling Gaps the Best Way Possible

As a monitoring architect it was my job to make sure that we had monitoring tools, training and processes in place to properly support the business. I was extremely passionate about my responsibilities and worked tirelessly to understand the gaps in our strategy and plug those gaps in the best way possible. And there’s the rub, my idea of the “best way possible” was flawed.

During my time as a monitoring architect I got to test out many different technologies. I put the tools through their paces in my lab. I put the companies through their paces by testing the sales and support organizations before making any purchases. I figured out how each new technology would fit into our existing processes and created new processes where they were needed. I documented everything thoroughly and ultimately ended up bringing in multiple new tools over the course of a few years.

Ignorance is Bliss, and Then It’s Not

The tools and processes were successful from the the perspective of helping to reduce customer and business impact. Unaware of my failure I was proud of what I had accomplished and I moved onto other things and new companies. Then I had a conversation this week that burst my bubble and woke me up like a slap to the face. With one sentence I realized my failure… “Our users only open the tool a few times a year when there are problems and they can’t remember how to use it!”. (Thankfully we weren’t discussing my current companies software)


Smack!!!! It hit me fast and without mercy. I realized that for years I had overlooked an absolutely essential aspect to successfully implementing technology. As a technologist I am well trained and very experienced in using “less than intuitive” products. But, I’m the exception to the rule in the real world. Most people don’t have the time nor the desire to become technology experts. They simply want and need a tool that solves their problems and is easy to use.

I had been so focused on features and processes and filling gaps that I overlooked that fact that power + ease of use = successful adoption. I had unwittingly robbed my company of the possibility of massive return on investment by selecting tools that were okay for me to use but very difficult for most of the rest of the company to use.

Immediately after this disturbing realization I recalled the timeframe shortly after I brought a new tool into my organization. I had set up a vendor led 1 week training session for the people on my team to learn our fancy new toy. The training session went well with only a few bumps in the road where the usage concepts were somewhat difficult. The problem was that within 2 weeks of the end of training most of the team had forgotten how to do most of what they were taught except for the simplest of tasks. That should have clued me in but I was blinded by pride and continued along blissfully ignorant until this week.

Never Repeat the Same Mistake

I hate losing. I hate getting something wrong. I hate the fact that it took me years to realize my failure but I’m grateful for having realized it at all. It’s a mistake I will never repeat and hopefully one that you will never have to make now that you have read this story. Please, when making decisions for a large group of people, really think about the people that will be impacted by your decision and make sure you consider the fact that everyone is different and what works for you wont necessarily work for them.

These days I’m happy to work for a company that is disrupting the enterprise technology market with powerful AND easy to use software. I didn’t truly realize how important it was until this week. If you’d like to check it out for yourself click here and start a free trial today.

Jim Hirschauer
Jim Hirschauer is a Technology Evangelist for AppDynamics. He has an extensive background working in highly available, business critical, large enterprise IT operations environments. Jim has been interested in application performance testing and monitoring since he was a Systems Administrator working in a retail bank. His passion for performance analysis led him down a path where he would design, implement and manage the cloud computing monitoring architecture for a top 10 investment bank. During his tenure at the investment bank, Jim created new processes and procedures that increased overall code release quality and dramatically improved end user experience.

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