3 Strategic Goals for Every Maintenance and Support Team

Does anyone remember Atlanta’s infamous Snowmageddon? It happened in 2014 when 2.3 inches of snow essentially shut down the city for an entire week.

Atlanta had done little to prepare so business and schools did not shut down until snow began to fall. This meant everyone hit the roads to drive home…at the same time. A normally staggered rush hour turned into traffic so bad that some people abandoned their gridlocked cars because walking was faster.

Needless to say, quite a few lessons were learned that day, but one of the most poignant was the importance of preparation and a well-thought-out plan of attack.

So how is this all relevant to my maintenance and support team?

Let’s say you work for a major e-commerce retailer and it’s Black Friday. Now imagine getting simultaneously hit with your typical stream of tickets AND the influx of time-sensitive support requests.

If the thought makes you break into a nervous sweat…take a deep breath and stick with us. We will walk you through why setting team goals is a smart strategy to prepare for peak times AND what kind of goals will prove most effective in preventing maintenance gridlock.

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Working Regular Goals Setting into Your Maintenance and Support Strategy

 

Setting team goals and implementing a plan to achieve those goals benefits your team two-fold.

First, regularly measuring progress prevents complacency and provides tangible data to prove the value of your team.

Secondly, these objectives give you the opportunity to strategically prepare for anticipated spikes in support requests or dips in team bandwidth.

So let’s look back at the snowmageddon example, consider how traffic would have been impacted if schools had been preemptively closed or 20% of employees opted to work from home that day.

Similarly, by setting a goal to clear ticket backlog in preparation for peak season, the influx of requests will become much more manageable.

 

Ok, so we have made the case for setting goals as a service team, what kind of goals will be the most beneficial?

Let’s think about the key objectives of a maintenance and support team. An effective team will resolve tickets to 1. Ensure the application is running smoothly AND 2. Keep customers happy.

Finding ways to resolve tickets effectively and quickly is a critical step in achieving those goals.

 

Reducing Ticket Backlog

As we mentioned before, reducing ticket backlog is a great way to prepare for an increase in support requests or a decrease in staff.

To implement this goal, start a few weeks or months prior to peak season. Identify how many backlogged tickets are currently in the queue and set a realistic number you want to be resolved prior to peak season

By giving your team a measurable goal, you can evenly distribute work to clear the backlog. Doing so will free up your teams’ bandwidth to handle the influx of pressing issues during peak season or fill in any gaps when you are short staffed.

 

 

Reduce Time to Resolve Tickets

Reducing ticket resolution time should be an ongoing goal for your service team. More efficiently resolving requests increases your team’s capacity and makes it easier to handle additional tickets when they arise.

There are a few strategies you can put in place to improve efficiency. The first is to implement a well-defined training protocol for routine maintenance requests. The second is to track workflows and identify support bottlenecks. Knowing where your team can improve gives you the insight you need to do so, ultimately improving the velocity at which you can address maintenance issues.

 

 

Reduce the Number of Touchpoints Prior to Resolution

A bad customer support experience can make or break an application’s reputation. An important aspect of maintaining this reputation is resolving tickets efficiently with as little impact to the customer as possible.

To reduce the number of necessary touchpoints, you want to gather as much information as possible in that initial contact. By effectively gathering information, you increase your chances of resolving the ticket quickly or if the ticket does need to be escalated, you will provide adequate background information for the next stage of resolution.

 

So there you have it, a few handy goals that will help your team prepare for the next maintenance blizzard. If your team sets regular goals, let us know which metrics have you found most helpful.

 

Looking for more resources to get through peak season? Check out our post on how to prepare your application!

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Top 6 Tips for Peak Season: Minimize Downtime, Maximize Profit

Put yourself in the shoes of an online retailer. Is your website prepared for … Black Friday? Well, Navy Seals have Hell Week and retailers have Black Friday. Both can be traumatic.

Now, as a customer yourself, remember going to a website and finding the dreaded loading loop? At least Amazon has pictures of puppies to entertain us when we miss out on the promised deals. But do you really want to spend time looking at puppies, or simply go to another retailer and find a similar deal?

Peak times + platform crashing = massive revenue loss

During peak season — potentially one of the most lucrative times of the year — poor preparation can be devastating. According to Gartner, network downtime can cost a company about $5,600 per minute. If your system is down for an hour, that is over $330,000. (*Cue nervous breakdown*)

Before you close down shop at the mere thought of that financial hit, don’t panic! There are steps your organization can take to prepare for peak season. Equipping your service team with the right tools and knowledge to quickly respond if something goes wrong is just the start. Read on to find out how to reduce the risk of downtime.

Let KMS handle your application maintenance and support and rest assured that you will be prepared for peak season. 

 

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Tip 1

Identify and resolve key performance issues

Testing the performance of your application to identify failure points doesn’t require much effort. Expedite the process by creating automated scripts emulating user test cases. The dev team can then resolve those issues or update the platform to ensure smooth performance when it matters most.

Here’s a resource for more information on performance testing and issues QA may come up against.

What types of performance testing can you use? Glad you asked! Here’s another resource that may be helpful.

 

Tip 2

Stress test your application

After identifying and resolving performance issues, stress test your application to observe how it handles prolonged spikes in traffic. You can run controlled tests to simulate varying levels of site requests to mimic a customer’s experience during peak traffic. Make sure to rerun the test by reducing the number of available servers each time. This process predicts how many servers are required to maximize performance and eliminate system bottlenecks.  

 

Tip 3

Implement a Code Freeze

Are you planning to make major changes to your platform … while preparing for peak season? Stop and think about this. Typically, when issues occur, the problem lies in your new code! Don’t give your support team more work troubleshooting new features. In the weeks leading up to peak season, implement a code freeze to ensure stability and allow your team to smoothly handle the increase in traffic.

 

Tip 4

Minimize Data Volume

You can also prepare your application by minimizing the data volume that is produced during high traffic. Want to learn how?

Turn off any unnecessary logging features that are typically active but not mission critical. This reduces server bottlenecking, allowing critical requests to quickly move through your system.

Thinking about that, it’s rather similar to cholesterol medicine. Clear up those arteries and allow for easy blood flow!

 

Tip 5

Effective Messaging

Wait, hold on! Sure, you’ve told me how to reduce the risk of failure. But what if something does happen?

Don’t worry! There are steps you can take to prepare your support team in advance to quickly and effectively handle unexpected issues.

Build in clear and descriptive messages during development. These messages make it easier for your support team to troubleshoot, diagnose, and ultimately resolve problems.

Next, consider having your service analysts review the code during development to ensure they understand a system’s failure points and the error messages associated with those issues.

Finally, use tools that make an error log searchable. This capability gives any analyst the tools they need to search through the log and troubleshoot problems more efficiently.

 

Tip 6

Leveraging the Cloud-based Services

Here’s the tip you’ve been waiting for…

What if your server does go down?

For those who already are leveraging the cloud, you can account for spikes in traffic and reduce performance issues on the fly. Whether you use Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), focus on enabling your teams to expand capacity on demand for both compute or storage.

These services allow you to pay for only what you use, so you’re not stuck with the cost of building out the extra capacity yourself. It also enables your teams to quickly recover your critical infrastructure when failures do occur.

For those who haven’t made the leap to the cloud yet, consider working with a partner who has extensive experience in the cloud to help migrate your critical workload to an extremely flexible, scalable, and cost-effective platform.

 

So there you have it, folks! Use these tips to help maximize profit during peak season. Poor preparation cannot be an excuse for revenue loss if you follow these suggestions. Make it a habit to always identify and resolve key performance issues, stress test your application, implement a code freeze during peak season, minimize data volume, use effective messaging, and leverage cloud-based servers. You should be good-to-go during Hell Week … err… Black Friday!

Do you have questions? Are you unsure how to properly prepare your platform or do you need an expert to assist? Be sure to check out KMS Technology’s Maintenance and Support Services.

 

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