The Secrets Of High Performance Consulting From ACE Performance Engineer

Alik here. Being member of a global team I was wondering recently about few questions:

  • How distributed team can improve its own performance and communications?
  • How the team can share technical and professional values when each member is thousand miles away?
  • How our team - ACE team - can offer more value to the online community?

I thought that interviewing ACE team members spread all over the globe would be a great idea to start. 

Mohd Abubakr ("call me Abu"), ACE Team Performance Engineer, happily agreed to share his insights on performance consulting.

Abu shares great tips on how to earn customer’s trust, how to effectively cope with the challenges, how to make it through the recession, and how great performance can help customers save money. Roll it, baby!

Abu, what is your expertise?

My main area of expertise is performance testing and tuning of ASP.NET web applications. As part of my work, I also happen to develop some knowledge in SQL Server performance, IIS, C#, WCF, SharePoint and PowerShell. Of late, I have been spending quite some time in understanding the Performance tuning of BizTalk Server.

What’s you passionate the most?

Undoubtedly Physics! And when I got into Performance engineering, I found that deep down performance engineering has an intrinsic connection with physics. No matter what a particular software is, it has be to executed on those tiny integrated circuits and wires. When I look at code, I instantly think about how much effort is being put on those wires and transistors and that’s where the performance engineering begins. 

Apart from physics and performance engineering, I am passionate about understanding world politics and policies.

What’s the current challenge you are dealing /coping with?

Broadly, every challenge faced by a person can be categorized under two fields, namely, professional and personal. My professional challenges include meeting the requirements and expectations of different customers, keeping myself updated with latest technologies and  waking up early in the morning to attend customer meetings. With every project, I come across new people with different mindsets and every time it’s a challenge to understand their needs, point them the issues, help them in resolving the issues and make them happy.

My personal challenges include identifying myself and understanding where my life is heading. It’s kind of strange but that’s one of the biggest challenge of my life has been understanding what I truly want. I wish someday I find the answer…

How do you approach the challenge? How do you manage to meet the requirements/expectations? What’s your trick to understanding their needs?

From my experience in performance consulting, I have learnt that flexibility in understanding the customer requirements and managing the right expectations is indeed the most important aspects for a successful engagement. Often you find customers whose requirements tends to vary while you are doing the engagement, in such situations the only way to win the customer is being flexible. Understand the needs, have an elaborate discussion on what the customer expects from you and make sure that you give inputs that takes the engagement in right direction.

Whenever you find confused over the customer needs, put yourselves into the customer’s shoes and think what would be your needs. On most occasions, it will help you in understanding the customer’s prospective about a problem.

What’s your biggest secret of successful consulting?

In my opinion, the biggest secret of successful consulting is to keep no secrets.  As a consultant, when I work on a project, it is important as part of job to keep no secret with customer. I make sure that I reveal all the details such as vulnerabilities that I find, the caveats during the testing and the possible recommendations that I can think of. The openness in dealing with issues and test caveats during the project helps in building a trustworthy relationship with customers.

Often, during the projects, there is a possibility that customer expects you to solve problems within no time. After being into couple of uneasy situations, I have learnt to convey my customers that I am a consultant not a magician. Having said that, personally, at the end of the project, as a consultant I really want the customer to feel that I have done some magic and made their web applications perform better.

How your service can save your customers money?

Before I say about our service offerings, let me tell you about an incident in India. Recently, rumors spread across India about a major bank going bankrupt. As soon as rumor spread across, people visited the bank’s website to verify the claims. Within moments, the site was flooded with hundreds of concurrent users and subsequently the website crashed. This crash strengthened the rumors of bankruptcy, leading to hundreds to people towards ATMs to withdraw money. The bank management had to take many other alternative measures to curb the rumors. With the volatile markets, this could happen to the websites of any company in business. Accurate performance testing and capacity planning of web applications has become critical for the businesses. This is where performance consultants like me come into picture. We test your web applications, identify the potential bottlenecks that can affect your web applications on high loads and help you perform stable and reliable business. 

What’s your advice to make it through the economy crisis?

In epic Paradise lost, John Milton writes, “The Mind is its own Place, and there within, can make a Hell out of Heaven, or a Heaven out of Hell”. We can cry for the paradise Lost or let our mind find solutions for regaining the paradise. Cross-check where your mind is heading. From the web application prospective, make sure that your web applications consume lesser response time as possible. With recession, people are going through lots of anger and frustration, they don’t want to wait for minutes for a web page to load and every second your application makes them wait, there blood pressure goes high. This can reduce your potential customers. My advice is to make your web application perform super fast and win more customers!

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