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Velocity Europe Interviews

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Velocity Europe attendees and experts share the challenges they see in talking to business people about why performance matters, and offer advice, tips, and best practices.

Video Transcription

Question:                                            

What challenges do you see in talking to business people about why performance matters?

Aaron Rudger:                       

When I talk to customers, a lot of the challenges that they relate back to me have to do with the velocity of change, and the velocity of content that they're dealing with.  And, the lack of control that they have to deal with, as well.  And, so that represents a big challenge. You know, one of the customers that I talked to – he kind of related it to the house down the street, where the woman has 50 cats living there; the house looks okay from the outside, but nobody wants to go in.

That's kind of emblematic of some of the issues that I think we all experience with trying to maintain a fast and responsive web experience; a high-quality web experience – when content is coming at us from all over the place; from places that are outside of our control, most often.

So, it's difficult to be able to relate why it's important for us to manage that better in the context of the user's experience.

Steven Shorrock:

Well, one challenge is to get over the obsession with failure, and to actually start to talk about success, and about normal work.  If we talk about safety only in terms of 'failure', then actually, this is not a very appealing thing for people to speak about.  So, one of the important things is try to find out what people normally do on a day to day basis.  So, 'what is the work as done?'  And, to try to understand how that differs from how we imagine that people work; that might be, we call, 'work as imagined'.

So, there's a difference between 'work as imagined' and 'work as done'.  It's really critical.

Courtney Nash:

I think that was covered really well in some of the talks today.  It's not that we don't want the same things; it's the language we use to talk about those things.  So, engineers, and front-end developers, and operations people – talk in ways, and use words and language that don't make sense to the business people.  It's kind of like me coming to a foreign country.  I have to understand what you're talking about.  We find the common ground then.  But, as the person who's speaking the foreign language, I have to make the effort to understand what you're talking about.  I think that translation between the two is really the biggest piece.

Chelton Tryline:

For us, as performance testers, it's more working with people in a business.  So, making the businesses understand what we do and how we do it.  And, making sure that we meet what they want, as well.  So, that's the real challenge, I think.

Question:

What advice can you give to other performance specialists in how to talk to business?

Aaron Rudger:

I think around here, and Velocity in particular, people really do have an appreciation for, and an understanding of performance.  But, where the challenge comes in is where you leave Velocity, and you go back to the business.  Articulating the impact and the influence of performance, in terms that the business can understand.  People in the marketing organization, or the product organization – they need to understand performance relative to how it's impacting user engagement; abandonment; conversion – things like that.

So, we really advocate for taking an approach where you're not only looking at performance, but also the user behavior that is correlated against that performance.

Courtney Nash:                      

I guess my tip would be:  Understand their language, instead of trying to make them understand yours.  Figure out what goals someone in the business has, and how do you translate what you do into showing them that you're supporting their goals.

Steven Shorrock:                    

I think people are only too happy to talk about how work is normally done.  They're happy to talk about how work normally works; about how things normally succeed.  And, actually, when you keep talking only about failure, then people become more defensive, and that becomes a harder discussion.  So, it's about finding a balance between talking about failure and talking about success.  But, on the whole, the thing to talk about is 'normal work' and how the system works.

Duration: 5 minutes

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