Saturday, January 10, 2009

How transparency can help your business

When looking to gain the benefits of transparency (into your downtime and performance issues), you first need to understand the use cases (or more accurately, the user stories) that describe the problems that transparency can solve. It's easy to put something out there looking for the press and marketing benefits. It's a lot more challenging (and beneficial) to understand what transparency can do for your business, and then actually solve those problems.

Transparency user stories

As an end user/customer:
  1. Your service seems to be down. I'd like to know if it's down for anyone else or if it's just me.
  2. I know your service is down, and I want to know when it'll be back up.
  3. I want some kind of explanation of why you went down.
As a business customer using your service as part of my own service offering:
  1. Before betting my business on your service/platform, I need to know how reliable it has been.
  2. My own customers are reporting that my service is down, but everything looks fine on my end. I need to know if your service is down, and if so I need information to keep my customers up to date.
  3. I want to find which link in my ecosystem of external services is broken or slow right away.
  4. One of my customers reported a problem in the past, and I'd like to correlate it with hiccups your service may have had in the past.
  5. I need to know well in advance of any upcoming maintenance windows.
  6. I need to know well in advance if you plan to change any features that are critical to me, or if the performance of the service will change.
As a SaaS provider:
  1. I want my customers (and my prospects) to trust my service. I don't want my customers to lose that trust if I ever go down.
  2. My support department gets flooded with calls and emails during a downtime event.
  3. I want to understand what the uptime and performance of my services are at all times from around the world. Both for internal reasons, and to help my customers diagnose issues they are reporting.
  4. I want to differentiate from my competition based on reliability and customer support.
In the next post, I will dive into ways to attack each of these user stories. Stay tuned.

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