Why Turkeys Should Vote for Christmas ... and Local Government CIOs Should Adopt APM
February 23, 2012

Zubair Aleem

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Of course, no self-respecting turkey would vote for Christmas. It would be suicidal! But is it suicidal for Local Government IT departments to vote for implementing Application Performance Management (APM)? It seems many technical departments think it is.

In my experience many people in Local Government, particularly at the technical level, feel that implementing APM is a sign of weakness. They see it as an admission that there may be problems with the applications they are supporting and so they put up barriers to its implementation.

Turning a Blind Eye

In fact, in some organizations the fear of APM is so great that they turn a blind eye to application performance problems, preferring to focus on what they describe as "more important" matters.

At one Local Government organization an application used by 100 people was so slow as to be almost unusable. I discussed it with the IT department and they told me that it wasn’t a priority. It was unbelievable, especially at a time when cost-cutting is a major priority.

Slow running applications cost organizations thousands of pounds. By identifying the source of an application performance problem at the London Borough of Islington, we helped it save £300K over two years.

And poor performing applications don’t just reduce productivity. They also lower morale and disrupt service delivery. The fact is it doesn’t have to be that way. APM solutions are neither expensive, nor difficult to implement, especially if organizations consider buying an outsourced solution from an APM specialist.

Making Zeroes into Heroes

Every APM implementation starts by benchmarking the performance of the existing systems and identifying any existing performance problems. It’s the part many IT people fear, as they think it will reflect on them. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Users aren’t stupid. They’re the ones using the systems and they know when there are problems. IT departments that bury their heads in the sand are just seen as zeroes. The ones that take notice, step up to the plate, use APM to identify the source of problems and take action to improve performance are the real heroes and will be acknowledged for it.

Holding Outsourcers to Account

APM is also a great help at organizations that outsource their systems. When authorities outsource their applications users can find it particularly frustrating trying to solve performance issues. But the fact is you can only manage what you can measure. It’s no good building Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into contracts if you can’t check they are being adhered to.

We’ve seen situations where outsourcers say they are meeting their commitments, because they can produce reports like server and network availability, but applications are still extremely slow. The problem for councils is that they have no data they can use to confront them and hold them to account. For a very modest outlay, APM would give them that information.

So, at the end of the day, is an IT department adopting APM like turkeys voting for Christmas? No! In fact it may be the opposite. IT departments that don’t adopt APM may be the ones committing suicide.

Zubair Aleem is Managing Director of Quadnet Services.

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