What Performance Problems Will Salesforce Users See?
by July 22, 2014

Filed under: Application Performance Management, Performance Management Tech

A recent analyst firm research paper commented that organizations that have the capability for measuring the quality of the end user experience are twice as likely as other companies to improve their brand reputation and 75% more likely to improve employee productivity. This comment validates that you need to measure the end-user experience, but it also suggests that if you don’t, your employee productivity is going to suffer.

If your company has decided to use a SaaS application such as Salesforce.com, your end-users are stuck with using it. It’s not like most other web applications, such as an ecommerce site, where you have the option of leaving if it’s performing poorly. Also, your end-users are not just using it for five minutes – they’re probably using it for five hours. It may not matter whether a page takes three seconds or thirty seconds to load, because they are stuck using it regardless. However, studies have shown that if a page takes greater than three seconds to load, the user’s attention is going to start to waver and they will lose focus on what they’re trying to do. When they lose focus, their productivity drops.

Web applications like Salesforce don’t fail like other applications do. If you are having a poor quality VoIP phone call because the network connection is bad, the phone call will end. Websites will just slow down and, unless something catastrophic happens, they will eventually finish loading the page. Your end-users will probably just suffer in silence, but you need to measure their experience even if they aren’t pounding on your door. You need to ensure you are making their experience the best it can possibly be.

In our blog on July 9th entitled “Top 5 Salesforce Performance Problems,” we talked about how location, poor quality bandwidth, recreational traffic, loading large resource files for desktop app-like interactivity and plug-in usage can impact Salesforce performance. When any of these issues occur, what is it the end-user actually experiences?

When Salesforce performance is being impacted, end-users will typically see the application working in slow motion. There are several different types of slowness they can experience depending on the issue:

  • Long time to first byte due to location. With TCP/IP guaranteed delivery, you know that when you request Salesforce.com the page will load and isn’t going to fail. It may take several attempts, but it will finally get through. That first byte request is impacted by the physical distance from you to your Salesforce location. The longer the round trip, the longer the time to first byte. The longer an end-user has to wait to load Salesforce, the greater the likelihood their focus will drop, and their productivity will drop with it.
  • Partial page loads due to retransmits. With lower quality bandwidth,there’s usually a high percentage of retransmits of the application content, which slows the page download time. Depending on where those retransmits occur in the page load process end-users will see part of the page is rendered and it will look like it’s stuck, or it will “spin” before the initial content is shown. Either way, the page won’t be usable until the download of the major page elements complete.
  • Page loads start/stop due to network congestion. When other employees in the company are using their smartphones to stream various media, they’re consuming bandwidth you expect to be there for Salesforce. End-users will see pages load fine initially and then the loading will stop. The site will load for a few seconds and then stop for a few seconds. Because they’re sharing bandwidth, they’ll have to wait for resources to free up on the congested network, effectively their number to be called for their website to load. As website consist of many small objects, they’ll need to wait multiple times for their number to be called before their website loads completely.

There are other, less technical factors that impact performance in a way that end-users can see. These issues are related to usage:

  • Data hygiene and housekeeping. As companies grow with Salesforce, the data by custom fields and other configuration can go stale. This unneeded data may not only be costing you dollars on your Salesforce bill, it can be costing your speed too. Integration with third-party systems can be impacted by the amount of data and the organization of records in the system. You need to keep data current and cleaned up, otherwise end-users will see that communication between Salesforce and the plug-ins that use that data is really slow.
  • Understanding your adoption of Salesforce. How you relate to your customers is going to expand your use of Salesforce. You may start off with just your salespeople using it, but then your marketing team is entering leads, your finance team needs to see orders, and customer support is going there for the master customer list it contains. You may start with 30 users and then expand to 130. With your initial Salesforce project assessment, determine who’s going to use it and how much they’re going to use it to make sure you have the bandwidth capacity and resources needed to have all those people happy with the performance.

With so many things that can slow Salesforce performance and so many different types of slowness your end-users can experience while using Salesforce, it’s important to closely monitor what they’re experiencing. By determining the pain being felt (the different symptoms of slowness) you can identify the performance problem. With AppNeta, you can determine very quickly what specifically is causing the slowness, then get to and solve the root of the problem immediately.