Prioritize with business context – ITOA use case #3

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In the first two posts of this series we’ve taken a look at two common ITOA use cases:

I recommend spending some time familiarizing yourself with the first three use cases I’ve highlighted, they lay some important groundwork for the rest of this series. With that, let’s dive into use case #3 — prioritizing issues and opportunities.

Prioritizing issues and opportunities

Once operations teams isolate the root-cause of an application performance issue, the next step is to determine how to rank and prioritize these different issues. Oftentimes these fixes are simply prioritized in the order in which they came into the support team. However, what if the most recent root-cause that’s been discovered is one that is directly impacting revenue, not the support ticket that was filed first?

Let’s look at an example to illustrate this point. Put yourself in the shoes of an application support person and look at this short list of open issues that are in your queue:

  • November 1, 2014 – Issue #1075 – Open for 14 days
  • November 10, 2014 – Issue #1091 – Open for 4 days
  • November 12, 2014 – Issue #1087 – Open for 2 days

Which one do you tackle first? Most likely the one that has been open the longest, right? Prioritizing that ticket will help you, as an application support person, improve the KPIs you get measured on like average time taken to close out a ticket.

Now let’s take another look at that same list but this time we will add in one data point that indicates the business context of the particular issue.

  • November 1, 2014 – Issue #1075 – Open for 14 days – Related to ‘update profile’ function
  • November 10, 2014 – Issue #1091 – Open for 4 days – Related to ‘search products’ function
  • November 12, 2014 – Issue #1087 – Open for 2 days – Related to ‘checkout’ function

Now which one would you prioritize? A segment of users not being able to update their profiles or search for certain products is obviously not good for the end user experience, but if people are having issues checking out of your application, that means revenue is being directly impacted. Updating preferences in a profile is not nearly important to the business as making sure money is flowing in. That business context allows operations teams to focus their efforts on the issue with the largest potential business impact. In the Application Intelligence Platform, that business context is what we refer to as a business transaction.
Simply put, a business transaction is a type of user request. AppDynamics automatically buckets these different types of user requests and baselines their normal behavior out of the box. Actions like ‘submit order’, ‘get quote’, ‘login’, ‘add to cart’ are all examples of business transactions.

Getting this business context, and automatically correlating it with the different performance issues that occur in the application, give operations teams that additional data point they need to stack rank remediation effort and tackle the large problems that are impacting the business first. And because AppDynamics dynamically baselines each business transaction separately, you’ll know when a certain business transaction breaches what we’ve defined as ‘normal’ performance. This allows Operations teams to create alerts and other automated actions when a business transaction has abnormal performance. For example, you could automatically create an incident in your ticketing system (ServiceNow, PagerDuty, VictorOps, Jira, etc.) anytime a really important business transaction deviates from the baseline, ensuring it gets proper prioritization within your team so they can proactively address the issue before it affects other end users.

By leveraging business transactions, Operations teams can easily understand how their technical perspective of the health of the environment relates to what really matters — the health of the business.

In the next post we’ll explore the fourth common IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) use case, analyzing business impact. In the meantime, discover how customers like Cisco, Edmunds, Fox News, OpenTable, and have leveraged the power of business transactions by signing up for a free trial of AppDynamics and trying it out for yourself.

Marcus Sarmento

Marcus Sarmento

Marcus has over 6 years of B2B marketing experience and is currently a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at AppDynamics. Prior to joining AppDynamics in 2011, Marcus worked at Clearwell Systems (acquired by Symantec) and NETGEAR.