Why Visualized Application Performance Metrics Help Businesses Grow

Daryna Tkachenko

In SaaS companies, smooth and speedy performance of the core software product has a direct correlation to business growth. If the software is slow, users are unhappy. If the app is buggy, transactions never occur. Thus, eliminating glitches and quick response to incidents are business critical. This calls for comprehensive monitoring of technical state and general “health” of live software applications.

7 min read

Tech Monitoring as Logicify Forte

At Logicify, we take software monitoring seriously. We came up with a cool toolkit for monitoring the applications we develop. Setting these tools up is now a part of our standard project development process. In short, our monitoring solution relies on Graylog, an open source software for data storage & management and alerting, and Grafana, an open source platform for data visualization. For proactive health-checks, we developed an open source Healthcheck bot. The combination of these tools, fine-tuned to record and react to certain technical and business metrics, gives us a comprehensive picture of how the application is performing in every given moment.

Read more about the components of Logicify monitoring toolset

  • Graylog (for data storage and management and for alerting)
  • Grafana (for data visualization)
  • Healthcheck Bot (for proactive software health checks)

Technical metrics of the app’s performance are visualized in Grafana graphs and dashboards, which makes it easy for the dev team to notice any anomalies and react to them accordingly.

Graylog/Grafana Dasboard Example.Graylog/Grafana Dasboard Example

We thought we could complement such dev-oriented dashboards with some business metrics, like average time spent on a page or number of new orders in an eCommerce app, to give our engineers even broader context of the app’s performance.

In the long run, such structured metrics about user behavior in a system aided not only our developers but business people on client’s side too. Eventually, our monitoring solution for technical metrics was extended and complemented with app-specific business indicators — all nicely combined in flexible and versatile Grafana dashboards.

Graylog/Grafana Dashboard with Business Metrics.Graylog/Grafana Dashboard with Business Metrics

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We benefited a lot from marrying application’s technical and business metrics in a single place and overseeing their cross-correlation. So did our clients. Let’s see which positive implications our double-sided system of technical state and user behavior monitoring brings to a SaaS or tech company.

Why Monitoring Dashboards Will Aid Your Business

If you are an owner or employee of a young SaaS or technology company, you will most likely find our monitoring solution advantageous. Imagine there is a plasma TV in your office open space. It broadcasts a 24/7 reality show about your web application. This is exactly what technical and business metrics are in a nutshell — if you know how to interpret them, of course. Will you be a fan? I bet you will! You and your colleagues will eagerly discuss “last episode” over a cup of morning coffee.

This is the case in Logicify headquarters: we have a few TV screens that broadcast a carousel of Grafana dashboards with office “weather” parameters, currency exchange rates, events calendar. This is an ever-living source for kitchen small talks.

Now back to Logicify software monitoring toolkit. This is what we typically set up for our clients. The monitoring data about the app, collected by Graylog and visualized in Grafana dashboards, is available online via a specific URL and could be broadcasted on a physical monitor if needed. Constant overseeing of both technical and business metrics — separately and in conjunction — maintains healthy atmosphere in the company. Moreover, it creates a sense of belonging among all teams and team members, which is the key to success (especially for startups). And more than that.

The dashboards bring other advantages too. For instance, they

  1. Bridge the gap between technical & business stakeholders
    Having both technical and business metrics visualized in a single set of dashboards shows their close interinfluence and interrelation, thus bridges the all-too-common gap between technical and business people in a company.
  2. Improve communication in team(s)
    Everyone in the team has the same context of what is going on in the system, so team members speak one language, hence better understanding and smoother communication process.
  3. Add to transparency
    Combined data of both kinds also adds to the overall transparency of cooperation and mutual trust, which is especially important for a distributed team. Bearing strategic business goals in mind helps developers make informed technical decisions and choices. In turn, business people see these decisions take time to be found and realized techwise, but time investments eventually translate to revenue growth.
  4. Promote product ownership
    Constantly keeping abreast of both types of metrics adds to the feeling of involvement and product ownership in every team member. Celebrating mutual success is more pleasant together. Everyone realizes his/her personal contribution to company growth, which is especially valuable for lean startups on their initial stages.
    Data Dashboards Bring Value to Your Business.
    Clearly, visualization and combined analytics of app’s technical metrics and business indicators have positive influence on company atmosphere and growth.

Graylog/Grafana Toolkit as a Lightweight BI System

Graylog-n-Grafana combination may not cover all monitoring entirely, but it would certainly help a) tech people to fix software issues promptly and b) company management — to make more informed business decisions.

Logicify monitoring toolkit is a like-kind lightweight analogue to a business intelligence (BI) system. Similar to a BI system, which allow analysis of this data by decision makers, it combines

  • data gathering
  • data storage
  • knowledge management.

Just like in a BI system, we gather heterogeneous (both structured and unstructured) and multi-type data in a single place - Graylog. So, we get a combination of top-of-the-pyramid metrics, i.e. high-level overview of system business context (for eCommerce — the number of orders completed, new users registered, existing users logins and so on) plus the very bottom-of-the-pyramid metrics, i.e. technical details that affect the business side of operations (downtimes, performance glitches, etc.), with the way to trace the flow and behavior of every individual user in the system, like why did User ID 27834 abandon the cart.

Decision makers can observe both types of metrics simultaneously and in interrelation, which allows them to make tactical and strategic decisions and planning for short- and long-terms. Just like a BI system, our monitoring pipeline gives a retrospect picture of system performance. On top of that, there is also a real-time snapshot and performance overview for last 24 hours.

However, unlike large, complex, and expensive BI system, often not affordable for startups, Logicify monitoring toolkit is based on free open source tools — Grafana and Graylog, which drastically cuts costs. Moreover, to set up and support a BI system, you will need constant considerable effort, while Logicify monitoring solution is easier to implement and configure.

A similar monitoring toolkit could be configured for your application if you are interested. Contact us now to discuss details.

Wrap-up

Combining technical metrics and business-related indicators of a web application performance in a single set of dashboards was a great decision, which aided both our engineers and clients. Our monitoring solution — a combination of Graylog and Grafana — is flexible and informative for all team members (or distributed teams) building a SaaS product or custom web application. It unveils interrelation between software performance and business growth. Moreover, it bridges the gap between techies and business-minded people and aligns technical design of the software with company’s strategic goals.

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