Every successful software-based startup has experienced downtime at some point. Some of the downtimes lasted days or weeks. This usually results in a lot of calls, emails, and messages on social media platforms from dissatisfied customers complaining about how porous the service is.
What do you think is the reason for this? Does it have anything to do with the way the app was built? Or did something mysterious happen overnight that affected the app? – Sometimes it could be a result of the former. Nonetheless, I am not ruling out the possibility that some of the downtimes might be the result of system maintenance procedures that were necessary at a specific time. However, this is rarely the case.
Very recently one of the leading fintech startups in Nigeria (Name withheld) had an app downtime for 2 days. It got so bad that virtually all their customers went into panic mode. This inadvertently put a strain on the trust some of their customers had in them.
This was due to them not anticipating what led to the app downtime. In fact, they didn’t realize the app was down until their customers began to complain. I am pretty sure at this point you are wondering if this could have been avoided. Yes, it could have.
It is common for startups, especially successful ones, not to prioritize product testing. Once the app has been launched, they don’t test it anymore until a customer complains about an issue and they need to troubleshoot. Ideally, frequent product testing should be incorporated into daily business operations so they can actively detect issues before their customers.
This way they resolve issues in real-time and communicate in real-time to their customers if it is an issue that might linger within a particular duration. Be that as it may, not many people want to be saddled with the responsibility of testing an app daily. However, here are some tips you might need to consider if you want to be able to anticipate and reduce the possibility of having downtimes to the barest minimum:
1. Startups should take a more intelligent approach to software development and delivery, by setting up a service that takes failure into account.
2. Document all the possible issues your app could possibly have and put systems in place that can mitigate them. If it is a server issue, create a backup server, if it is a functionality issue create a bypass or alternative that can be used in the interim.
3. Established end-to-end observability across their technology stack, providing your DevOps teams with important code-level insights into all software builds, apps, and services, whether they’re in development or already deployed.
4. Frequent backups and disaster recovery should be prioritized. Backups will not prevent a crisis from happening, but if it does happen, it will make returning things to normal much easier, quicker, and less expensive.
5. Ensure your infrastructure is scalable. Just because everything works well in the first few months doesn’t necessarily mean it will always continue to be that way. You should always make sure your system is designed to be scalable so that you can expand its capabilities without having to deal with several issues, and it can continue to do its while your startup grows.
6. Treat system maintenance with utmost priority. System maintenance should always be carried out when required.
7. Always ensure you do regression testing when you release a new feature or fix a bug in your app to confirm that the recent program or code change has not adversely affected the existing features in your app
Anticipating and fixing downtimes are critical to building a successful startup. Proper and frequent product testing & analysis is a major way to ensure that your app functions optimally. More importantly, it keeps your customers happy.