System performance is more than an inconvenience. It can be a very costly proposition for all areas of the business. Consider the impact of improving system performance by just a few seconds per transaction or retrieval of data from the application or the time it takes for a screen to load. Multiply that times hundreds of software interactions per person daily times every user in the system over the course of a year’s time and you may be able to cost-justify switching to a faster system in no time.
Poor system performance has other negative effects on the business. It can cause critical deadlocks where records are locked and unavailable to other users or other system processes. It can in some cases cause data corruption which is never an easy fix.
Poor performance may also mean that you’re overstaffing in certain departments. If you have 10 customer service or sales representatives and you could improve system performance by just 10% you are essentially negating the need for a full time employee potentially saving $30,000 or more annually. The larger your organization – the more critical it is that you can access and enter data fast.
Performance should be evaluated carefully including the time it takes for the software to load (or login), the time it takes for data to be entered, the time it takes to retrieve data, and the time it takes for transactions to process and post. This is one area that very few companies evaluate when looking at new software. They fail to understand the poor performance of their software and they almost never evaluate the new software to ensure that they are making an improvement over what they have today.
Performance can also impact critical business operations. Take for example material planning or production scheduling in a manufacturing environment. Some older systems may take many hours to run an MRP generation or hours to reschedule operations. During that time life goes on – inventory levels are depleted producing stock-outs which can delay customer shipments (and payments or potentially the loss of business); excess inventory could be purchased when demand has shifted resulting in increased carrying costs and potential write-offs from obsolete inventory that no one wants; and customer shipments can be delayed because the jobs weren’t scheduled effectively or the materials required were used in to fill less critical orders. Time is of the essence in many industries and even small improvements in performance can make huge differences in the business.
Performance issues may be inherent in the software you use due to poor design, incompatibility with other systems or platforms, or it could be related to the setup or configuration of the software or the environment including database or server settings. It’s important to identify the source of the performance issues as many issues can be resolved with little effort by someone who is experienced with the platform and the systems involved.
One benefit of switching to a cloud-based application is scalability. The majority of accounting and ERP systems are used at peak times on business days during normal work hours. Your servers may slow down during the mid to late morning and into the afternoon as more users and processes are occurring. Many of the hosted SaaS applications today automatically scale based on usage with additional CPU (central processing unit) resources added to maintain a consistent level of performance despite spikes or fluctuations in usage.
Another problem with performance is that it can result in unplanned downtime as IT troubleshoots the issues and reboots servers causing systems to be unavailable for a period of time. This can range from a matter of minutes in a best-case scenario to hours or days if the problems are more difficult to identify.
Performance issues are one thing inside the organization but they are an entirely different animal when it affects customers and vendors. Consider the potential risk to your company when a customer order can’t be processed or when a vendor can’t receive a payment and puts your account on hold – all due to performance issues with your business software. The more connected businesses become – the more performance will become a focus to improve inter-business experiences.
Numerous surveys show that performance is vital to system users. For example, SolarWinds conducted a survey and found that 62% of respondents said that system performance is absolutely critical to their ability to do their job effectively.
In some (albeit rare) cases, system performance may not be due to the vendor or the software you use but rather, it could be due to incompatibilities of the hardware or underlying or integrated technologies supporting it. And in extremely rare cases is could be due to physical defects in servers, routers, or even issues with internet service providers.
At the end of the day, system performance matters. It may seem like it’s just an inconvenience but poor performance can deteriorate employee morale, frustrate customers, and have a significant negative impact on your business.