Let’s start by examining common reasons APM efforts fail:

Square peg pic1. Business process was made to conform to tools, not the other way around

IT should serve the business. It should go without saying then that IT should also serve business processes. Unfortunately, tools are often purchased based on their popularity without first thoroughly vetting their fit for the specific business needs.  Selecting tools based on their Gartner and Forrester ratings alone, instead of their ability to suit the customized needs of your business processes, is a mistake because these reviews are largely based on the theoretical capabilities of those tools and the amount those vendors have sponsored the reviewers. What is actually capable in your specific enterprise is far more important to consider.

2. The wrong tools were implemented

This may seem like the same mistake as the first reason and it some cases it is.  But in other instances, tools were selected based on their ability to serve business processes, yet still prove to be ineffective.  How?  It’s surprisingly easy to get lost in the confusion of which products best excel in their categories.  With so much marketing information out there, all the products can appear to be both generalized and specialized enough to serve your requirements.

To help avoid this, you should request a Proof of Concept (POC). If the vendor can’t deliver on promises during the POC, consider a different tool.  After all, vendors send the A team to execute a POC, so don’t assume the B team will be able to work miracles during the actual implementation if the proof of concept falls flat.

3. Tools and processes are poorly implemented

Enterprise infrastructure can be maddeningly complex. Properly implementing monitoring tools and feeding them into a single pane of glass poses many challenges.  Will scripts need to be written, code changed or certain applications retired?  Knowing these things ahead of time, and having the skills to execute these needs are paramount to a successful implementation.  This brings me to the next mistake…

4. There is a lack of training/skills

Identifying business needs, selecting the appropriate tools and implementing them effectively requires skills.  It’s important to always remember that APM is as much a business tool as it is an IT tool, so the implementation must be handled by individuals with both IT and business knowledge.  This combined skill set is in high demand and low supply. Whether the plan is to handle the entire implementation in-house, or out-source most tasks to a service provider, having prior experience with this type of project is the only way to ensure a successful implementation.

5. Event Management and Monitoring efforts are ineffective or decentralized

This is an unfortunate mistake because it often means that the organization is wasting man hours, resources and time fighting unnecessary fires.  This problem creates a sense that IT is ineffective or worse.  IT may even have the right amount of talent and the proper tools to establish an effective monitoring strategy, but the ROI has not been realized due to disparate practices.

Now let’s take a look at how you can make sure that these blunders don’t happen to you:

1. Start by understanding how IT impacts the business

When applications are performing poorly or are unavailable, how does that impact business process? More importantly, what financial costs are associated with poor APM?  Gaining an understanding of how IT currently impacts the bottom line will help you in crafting a roadmap towards world-class APM.  You will want to first focus on effectively managing applications that are critical to your business.  The highest revenue generating applications should be monitored first, along with any systems that are particularly troublesome.

2. Figure out what do you do manually today that keeps the lights on

Next, catalogue your current strategies for manually keeping the lights on.  You will want to know ahead of time what tools and processes are currently being applied, by whom and for what.  Figure out what kind of results you’re currently getting from these processes too. Why? So that you can immediately eliminate redundant tools, address gaps with new software and measure ROI upon completion of the APM project.

3. Define what technologies your business currently relies on

At this point, you’ve already determined which applications are core to your current business model, but now you need to examine which technologies support those business critical systems.  What challenges will you face in monitoring these applications and supporting infrastructure?

4. Determine what you need for the following categories of monitoring and reporting

  • End-User Experience Monitoring: What are you looking to monitor, specifically? Establish an understanding about which applications effect your end-users so you know what you’ll be monitoring.
  • Systems Monitoring: What systems support your applications? You’ll need monitoring tools that can effectively handle those systems. If your enterprise environment is a mix of legacy and modern systems, you’ll want a toolset that manages both.
  • Infrastructure Monitoring: Know what infrastructure supports your core applications and find a tool that effectively manages that environment.
  • Compatibility with existing ticketing system: Will the tools you select for monitoring be compatible with your ticketing system?  Don’t purchase any tools until you’re sure that they will plug in.  If you can’t find any, you may be looking at heavy customization, or the need to purchase a different ticketing system all together.  This will be important for automating alerts and event tracking.
  • Single Pane of Glass: Feeding all of your monitoring information into a single pane of glass is essential for reaching a mature APM organization. Define what you want to be able to view from your SPoG and vet each option to ensure they meet these requirements. When considering your end-user experience, system and infrastructure monitoring tools, make sure they can all feed into this SPoG.

It is always best to start by protecting investments that are getting you the biggest return, and address the most problematic systems first.  Tools should follow business process, not the other way around. If you keep this in mind, and follow the advice of this article, you’ll be on the right track to world-class APM in no time!

About Tara Sharif

Tara Sharif has extensive experience in IT recruiting and sales.  She is consistently a top performer at every organization that employs her.  She is currently working as an Executive Account Manager at InsightETE where she partners with enterprise organizations to provide APM consulting services.  InsightETE is an Application Performance Management firm offering a full line of solutions to fortune 1000 and larger companies.  InsightETE offers APM consulting, IT staffing, and a proprietary and patented method to perform root cause analysis in 15 minutes or less. InsightETE’s software gives their clients the ability to measure and troubleshoot IT system performance on a granular level.  Additionally, InsightETE clients can measure true response time, track service levels, and reduce outages as they root out problems from their verified source. What’s more, they see an increase in their customer service satisfaction by eliminating service level disagreements.