Achieving corporate growth without losing service quality
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Prasad Memane, Senior Software Engineer at Meta explains how your organization can achieve corporate growth without losing service quality by striking the balance between them, how to implement quality of service, engineering excellence, and a lot more you won't want to miss.
The software product industry is highly competitive and shows no signs of slowing down. In June 2022, approximately 36 thousand mobile apps were released through the Apple App Store, up by two percent compared to the previous month. As such, companies are feeling mounting pressure to launch new products or add new features to current products. However, if the technology foundation to provide quality service is not given equal attention, new initiatives can result in disappointment and loss of trust from even the most loyal customers. That is why it is important to find the right balance between growth and quality of service.
The competitive app marketplace
The tech space has become more competitive as it expands into new sectors year after year. Competition leads to new product and service innovation, but it also leads to a rat race of businesses trying to reach market-ready status before the rest of the pack. Being the first to market an application solution means being the go-to-choice for early customers, leading to more brand awareness and better customer retention. That said, when app developers are under pressure to meet unworkable launch deadlines, it can lead to cutting corners, internal disruptions, and poor user experience. Then developers are forced to take steps backward, spending extra time and resources to undo what isn’t working and find new solutions. This not only wastes precious resources but can slow the pace of business operations or even bring them to a grinding halt.
Striking a balance between corporate growth and quality of service
A vital step of the app development process includes bringing developers and stakeholders together to strike a balance between meeting launch deadlines without losing quality service. The pendulum swings depending on where a business is in its life cycle, which fluctuates between periods of growth and periods of stability. When a business and its application products grow, so do the needs of its customers, employees, and stakeholders. By strategically expanding service needs alongside business growth opportunities, applications can meet the desires of customers while delivering a stellar user experience that keeps customers coming back.
The fact is the first application to market won’t stay relevant if users are consistently experiencing low-quality service. This includes anything that disrupts a user’s experience from bugs, slow processing, outages, incomplete or incorrect data, readability, accessibility, and privacy concerns, among countless other customer standards. Even if an application is the only solution on the market, if it isn’t delivering high-quality service, customers will turn to a competitor’s option as soon as it’s available.
Leaders and developers are united to achieve high-quality service
For any application to succeed beyond its initial launch, a solid business foundation is essential. That starts with strong leaders who know how to align the overall mission and business activities regardless of whether the company is in a growth lifecycle or a stability phase.
If a company is in a growth stage, the emphasis is on expanding its operations, whether in the early development of its flagship service, developing a new product add-on, or transitioning from a domestic company into an international one. On the other hand, if the business is in stability mode, the focus is on maintaining market share, acceptable profit levels, and deepening customer relationships. Recognizing these stages in a company’s lifecycle is key to scaling sustainably with future growth in mind.
In any market environment, it is important for leaders to foster engineering efficiency. If developers don’t have the right tools in place or are working with impractical timelines, service quality takes a hit. Tools that contribute to engineering development efficiency include the right software or hardware, the right training, specific expertise, more personnel, project management support, automated processes, and more realistic timelines.
Further, strong leaders make sure that quality of service is a part of the corporate culture, one that is embedded throughout the company. That mandate enables engineers and employees to play central roles in assuring and delivering quality service. In this type of environment, a leader’s ability to listen to the team is one of the most vital skills. In this way, engineers and employees share the responsibility of sustaining a customer-centric service culture. They must recognize when quality wanes, it’s crucial to bring issues to the attention of leadership and use their unique skillsets to identify how to achieve better results. Engineering teams have the specialized knowledge to convey to leaders and others what can be done, how it can be done, and what they need to make it happen. This open, two-way communication fosters alignment at all stages of a project and across ongoing business operations. When all members of a team are united under the goal to create a superior customer experience, quality of service becomes intrinsic to all business activities.
Implementing quality of service and engineering excellence
After a solid foundation is in place, there are five standards of quality service and engineering excellence that every app must sustain to deliver an outstanding user experience:
1. Recognize and fix production bugs quickly to avoid user frustration. In a perfect world, every bit of code rolled out at the end of each benchmark would work flawlessly in production. Even with thorough testing, there are inevitable bugs that force developers to adjust and roll back code already deployed, especially when integrating work across large teams. Fixing bugs in the field is costly, and risks live users being affected by new problems. Early detection is vital. The more time that passes, the more the damage compounds compared to if defects are fixed early on. Mitigate issues by building consistent bug detection into workflow and integrating code changes in batches that are small and manageable. The closer bug detection is to the developer’s coding environment as opposed to the production environment, the better.
2. Maintain service reliability to a standard of 99.99 percent to deliver a smooth application and create a seamless user experience. Service reliability is a term sometimes falsely used interchangeably with service quality. However, reliability refers to the process of attaining a 99.99 percent probability of success, durability, dependability, and availability for an application to perform a specific function over specific periods. Essentially, it means a product will do what it says it will, every time. Reliability testing is a key step to ensuring these qualities are constantly met. Reliability testing doesn’t just focus on fixing a problem but seeks to find patterns of repeated failures, identify root causes, and conduct ongoing performance tests. Reliability leads to resiliency, or an application’s ability to react to problems in one of its components and still provide the best possible service. Resiliency is vital in the growth stage for organizations to rapidly implement software across multi-tier, multi-technology infrastructures.
3. Collect quality data from both internal and external resources to discover customer needs and drive product success. Initially, for applications to succeed, they must fulfill a marketplace need that provides a solution customers seek. Market data drives new product discovery. Once that focused solution is identified, customer and prospect data are vital to driving product success. Internally, businesses must leverage their own data to make strategic and sound operational decisions. Of course, simply having data is not enough. Data that is incomplete, buggy, or incorrect can completely unhinge the project. Data quality management is a constant and ongoing role. Someone must be in place to assess data for quality, cleanse and improve outdated, inconsistent, or inaccurate data, and enrich data with relevant queries, a new collection, or third-party integration. That data quality must be maintained, even during growth stages. When a business scales, so must its data.
4. Handle and thoroughly document outages quickly. Tied to service reliability, outages are a certainty for any application. Ninety-one percent of organizations said a single hour of downtime that takes critical server hardware and applications offline, averages over $300,000 in costs to the organization due to lost business, disrupted productivity, and remediation efforts. It’s vital to fix outages quickly, but even more important, developers and corporations must learn from outages to create solutions to optimize products for ongoing success. When outages happen, developers must adopt the mindset that an outage isn’t an entirely “bad” occurrence. In that way, they can use their discoveries to leverage the incident and identify better solutions, whether in its code, APIs, or front-end input. Outages end up being key opportunities to improve application efficiency and experience, but if an outage happens again for the same reason, this means something important fell through the cracks.
5. Identify and prioritize follow-ups for responsible parties according to outage findings. As part of the service outage, make sure developers fix what needs fixing, add safeguards to ensure the outage doesn’t happen again and add alerts so that if it does reoccur, the right people can catch it earlier and mitigate it faster. Document follow-up steps and identify clear metrics for measuring success to make sure quality is maintained.
Creating a culture of providing quality service
When applications are developed with a philosophy that prioritizes quality of service, the users of that product notice. Users’ experiences become more seamless and tailored to their needs. If applications can deliver a positive experience while maintaining efficient processes at all stages of their lifecycle, real business growth happens. With the nature of today’s competitive tech marketplace, applications that don’t meet user expectations simply won’t last. Use strategic efforts to align software engineers and leaders under a united, customer-centric roadmap to achieve corporate growth with consistent, high-quality service.
This content is made possible by a guest author, or sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of App Developer Magazine's editorial staff.
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