"Your application is only as good as your network." If that phrase isn't a rule of thumb in the business world yet, it should be. Code quality and edge device speed are performance-critical, but they're far from the only factors influencing quality of service. Without a strong provider network to support it all, the experience evaporates faster than you can say, "Attempting to connect."
Above all, these concerns highlight the importance of cross-team collaboration and understanding. In a world where customers show reluctance to do business in any channel after suffering a poor mobile experience, it's easy for your company's techie and non-techie elements to end up at each other's throats. People assume things and assign blame unfairly. Employees throw the company's internal communication strategy by the wayside as email bickering consumes two arms of the business.
Considering this, take a look at two entities with stakes in a business's apps — marketing professionals and software developers — and talk about what they can do to keep from working against each other when poor performance strikes. You're trying to realize a single vision, so you might as well make getting there less contentious.
For Branding Professionals: Cross-Team Collaboration and Understanding
High-ranking marketing professionals don't typically have their heads buried in app development. So, their response to poor app performance is likely to match the average customer's: "This thing's a piece of junk! How could engineering think this performance is acceptable?"
It's usually around this time that shots go across the bow, feathers fly, and other euphemisms describing verbal conflict occur. And while it may feel necessary to gnash teeth at the people who turned an excellent concept into a crummy app, remember those nine innocuous words: "Your application is only as good as your network."
Thus, the best things marketing and branding people can do when faced with network problems largely come down to understanding:
- Don't Assume Incompetence: Software development is part science and part voodoo. Apps that perform perfectly in test environments can crash and burn when released into the wild. This is especially true when network problems manifest, as they often come as the result of network congestion. Instead of assuming your in-house or third-party developers stink, attempt to understand the source of the problem.
- Don't Make Harmful Assumptions: Those developers may not be passing the buck when they blame network factors beyond their control. Treating them like they're trying to avoid trouble is bound to foster ill will.
- Keep It Simple: Yes, it'd be awesome if your app could hit each item on the 30-point list you've proposed. Yes, performance can suffer if you force the developers to follow through. Keeping with the other suggestions on this list, listen to your developers. If they say it won't work, it probably won't work.
Of course, how you approach these plans is entirely up to you. In terms of collaborating across functions, allowing representatives from each side to occasionally visit the other side could be helpful. You could also schedule periodical "clear-the-air" sessions where people from both sides attempt to gain perspective.
If you're responsible for opening up the coffers, you'll also want to ensure third-party partners — such as a vendor producing an app for you or a cloud provider backing up a mission-critical communication API — aren't chosen by lowest price only. While you can certainly hire good help at a reasonable price, few good things come when you visit the bargain basement. Check a vendor's network performance history and client track record, among other factors, or prepare to suffer the consequences.
For marketing and development teams forced to overcome (or avoid) a network problem, smart cross-team collaboration is a smart way to fix some performance issues and curb others before they start.
For Developers: Work Smarter, Work Choosier
On the development side, collaborating with marketing after performance issues can feel less like working and more like a brutal game of dodgeball. If you aren't fully ready to sidestep unfair accusations, you're bound to take a few shots.
Because of this, avoiding network woes often comes down to two words: due diligence. When you know that API vendor's service-level agreement comes with X percent guaranteed uptime, you have proof to point to when anomalies occur. Whether you're leaning on local hardware or choosing a reliable vendor, the first step to avoid network problems is ensuring the backbone is there. Go figure!
With that said, smart development and design practices can further protect you against network problems. If some functions are more important or data-hungry than others, prioritization techniques can ensure processes and calls are served in the appropriate order. Optimization techniques that seem like drops in the bucket, such as tweaks to server response times and transfer times, can have a positive impact on overall network response when combined.
Developers would also do well to assign a designated talker. If your team employs a strong conceptual integrator — aka someone who can accurately make highly technical concepts make sense to the average employee — put that person on the front lines when it comes time to meet.
Play Together Better
In a business where disparate arms such as marketing and development must collaborate, it's natural that some head-butting should occur. After all, a workplace without conflict is one without a diversity of problem-solving idea. It's when these differences impede progress that they become a real problem.
For marketing and development teams forced to overcome or avoid a network problem, smart cross-team collaboration is a smart way to fix some performance issues and curb others before they start. When you pick the right partners, work with transparency, and give the other side the benefit of the doubt, great things are possible. See what enhanced understanding can do if your app is suffering from network issues — it may pay dividends the next time you have to work together on an app.