Research from Compuware, the software and services company, has found that more than half of European IT executives (52%) surveyed believe there is a 50% or higher chance that application deployments will fail when they go live.

This lack of confidence in application performance may be due to 56% of responding businesses reporting they do not have any formal performance management methodologies in place, and one in three (33%) respondents admitting to being somewhat or very ineffective at minimising performance defects.

Marco Freitas, technical consultant: Africa & Middle-Eastern regions at Compuware, says: "The question of how to improve application performance is hardly new, and it seems hard to believe that organisations are still taking such a hands-off approach, even when they see it’s resulting in wide-spread performance issues.

"IT directors need to address this and look to best practice methodologies for guidance on the kinds of steps they can take to ensure they are consistently and proactively managing application performance."

With so few organisations taking a strategic approach to performance, 54% of respondents reported they encounter unexpected performance issues in a minimum of one in five (20%) of their application deployments. The impact of these issues is widespread, with the most common being late delivery of applications, experienced by two thirds of the respondents (66%).

Other common issues when deploying applications include not meeting performance standards set in service level agreements (SLAs) (60%); applications delivered over budget (49%); not meeting end-users’ expectations (39%); and negative effects on existing systems and services (29%) as a result of the deployment.

These kinds of issues have both immediate and long-term implications for the business. For example, when performance is compromised there is a loss of employee productivity, reported by 60% of respondents. Customer satisfaction will also be impacted according to 78% of respondents, and 22% felt these factors could result in reduced business revenue.

This is not the only way poor application performance costs the business money: 56% reported that when an issue does occur, the service levels of existing applications is likely to be affected and thus business processes will be negatively impacted; and 47% suggested that additional costs are incurred due to unplanned hardware upgrades.

"The business implications being described by the respondents aren’t all that surprising given the approach that is currently being taken to application performance," Freitas adds.

"Not only do organisations not have the right processes in place, 44% of respondents don’t even recognise performance profiling as a critical stage in their application development cycle.

"Freitas continued. "This is a major problem as profiling enables you to understand how the application will perform in the live business environment."

Only 29% of responding organisations involve the entire IT department in performance management, recognising the role and relevance that each of the differing areas – operations, development, testing – plays in managing the ongoing performance of applications.

The remainder of the respondents put just one of these teams in charge, rather than sharing the responsibility across them.

"Application performance has a direct and critical impact on business operations and therefore the whole of IT rather than a specific silo needs to take responsibility for it," Freitas says.

The situation is very similar in South Africa.

"Here, a major problem is that many IT departments are arranged in silos," said Freitas. "Very often there are separate development and production teams. There tends to be a fairly large gap and very little communication between them.

"Applications are developed and tested by the development team in a pristine environment, and then pushed into production. Once there, applications often suffer performance degradation, or even failure.

"This gap needs to be bridged, allowing more visibility into how applications will perform when live."

71% of respondents admitted they rely on end users phoning into the helpdesk to alert them to any performance issues that have occurred.

This means organisations will not address performance issues until the damage has already been done, rather than proactively identifying and addressing issues before they have even been noticed by end users.