Why is performance crucial?
In today's age, data load times over five seconds are almost always unacceptable regardless of the type of application. Performance is not limited to just page load time but to system stability under stress as well as agility with regards to expansion possibilities.
This holds true for all aspects of a business life-cycle and yet oftentimes projects are developed and even completed without consideration of this. Frequently this is compounded by the fact that there are no early warning systems in place to notify of potential performance issues.
Invest little to gain a lot
Assume that a task has two independent parts, A and B. B takes roughly 25% of the time of the whole computation. By working very hard, one may be able to make this part 5 times faster, but this only reduces the time for the whole computation by a little. In contrast, one may need to perform less work to make part A be twice as fast.
This will make the computation much faster than by optimizing part B, even though B's speed-up is greater by ratio.
Low-hanging fruit taste best
Most often the initial steps are the easiest and yield the best results. Be among the best-in-class businesses that are optimizing with a clear understanding of the law of diminishing returns. We usually personally meet with the business principals prior to any engagement, familiarize and educate ourselves with the specific topic both from the human as well as the scientific perspective.
We stress the fact that performance optimization has to be viewed from a humanistic perspective due to the fact that performance is most often a perceived issue and only sometimes directly tied to a system problem. In spite of the previous statement most performance solutions are engineered in their nature instead of coming up with a solution based on behavior analysis.
Rory Sutherland at a TED talk in 2009 recalls Eurostar – A train between London and Paris – as case in point where the operator is trying to improve the 3 ½ hour train ride by spending six billion pounds sterling, building completely new tracks reducing the travel time by about 40 minutes. Rory’s proposed humanistic solution was to hire the top male and female supermodels, pay them to walk the length of the train, handing out free chateau petrus for the duration of the journey and people would ask for the train to be slowed down. Engineered vs. Humanistic approach, enough said...
Measure and quantify
Without tools to benchmark and profile in place, accurate data is unattainable. This means that the foundation of optimization lies within a well-defined framework of data aggregators. Of course it is imperative to segment changes and attribute results to the correct causes. While this sounds trivial, most businesses don't have the tools or capabilities of letting data mature enough to accurately evaluate.