CRM software runs my life

Month: August 2009

Top 3 Tools for Tuning Web Applications

I believe that the greatest strength of web based applications (as opposed to desktop applications) is that ability to develop a feedback loop. I like examples, so let me run through the top feedback methods that I currently use:

  • uservoice_forum_exampleUservoice – This tool allows single sign-on integration to allow you to have a private feedback forum that you can harvest for feedback. The best part about it is that, unlike your current WishList queue, it is self-prioritised by the people who actually know what they are talking about, your customers. You can also provide feedback back to your customers on how the ideas are progressing (approved, started, completed etc.). Nice way to close the user feedback loop.

 

  • Google Analytics – Putting analytics through a web application lets you know what users are using most often, how long they stare at a particular feature (or enter information) and what makes them bounce out. But it can also help you narrow that information down to specific users, simply by passing through some information to the new Advanced Segmentation tools using thesetVar() functionto pass through a user’s login name for example. You can even track events, flash components and of course conversions (successful transactions in your application?).

 

  • site24x7 examplePerformance Monitoring – It is a great idea to do user testing and time how long it takes to follow a path through your application, for example logging into your web-based CRM application, searching with some set terms, returning a result and then displaying the details of this result. You can time it in a user session, providing you with valuable (but once off) time information about user scanning and data entry time. How does this time differ at 9am Monday versus 3am Thursday? A web application performance monitoring tool like site24x7 allows you to run this path automatically every 5 minutes, 24×7. This not only allows you to check your servers are serving your application at a consistent time, but even just serving it at all. It will email you immediately when your application stops responding, send you a weekly performance summary report, show you performance from multiple locations around the world and even help you independently track your SLA compliance (and even publish all this via an API or public page).

Don’t wait for your customers to call you and complain, these tools make feedback easy, even to the point where users are providing it instantly without even realising. The next step is using these tools to proactively improve your web application, which of course is easier said than done. Just remember you have to measure before you can manage. 🙂

Seth Godin – Marketing is too important

Seth begins his speech by saying he is going to go fast. I was initially sceptical, but now I have watched this video three times and I am still finding resonating ideas within it.

A good product should sell itself. Good products will get recommended. A personal recommendation is more valuable than a website lead. And so the circle continues. Now back to watching the video again…

Company Culture at Netflix

How many companies clearly define their culture and HR policy in a public way? Jack Welch of GE famously held the view that the bottom 10% of the company should be fired every year, but in the days of labor shortages that would be frowned upon. That’s why it was refreshing for me to see this slideshow from Netflix. Have a read for yourself, although be warned it is quite long and detailed:

So what do I think? Firstly it is awesome that a company publishes this kind of presentation, everyone should be proud of who they work for and have no problems articulating that to the public. I don’t think there are many companies who are so upfront, open and honest about who they are (in many cases even being aware would be a great start).

In particular I liked:

  • “adequate performance gets a generous severence package” – provocative but also highly motivating to myself at least. There is nothing better than being in a team where you know everyone cares as much as you do, and nothing worse than putting your heart into something that sits in someone’s “to do” list.
  • Brilliant Jerks –  the cost to teamwork is too high. I have had managers who make excuses for a brilliant jerk because they hate the thought of rehiring for a person that is currently letting them put their feet up.
  • Rare Responsible Person – Doesn’t wait to be told what to do, Never feels “that’s not my job”. Everyone should pitch in, no-one should feel territorial. If I am struggling I will put my hand up and ask for advice, and I expect others to do the same and welcome my input.
  • Value simplicity – No-one can manage lots of small products successfully. Focus on what works, and keep making it work even better.
  • High Performance People make few errors – Hire well, trust your people to do their job. Don’t cotton wool bad people and have checks and balances to make sure they don’t do damage. That adds huge amounts of waste and overhead.
  • Control through context– Managers should communicate a clear strategy and whatever happens within that strategy is up to the employee.

What did you get out of it? Does your company even have a policy or statement on culture?

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