As the summer is getting into full swing, Q2 is coming to a close. Transition periods like the end of a quarter serve as a natural time for reflection and planning. Moving into Q3 is an especially useful time to look back at how your microservices performed and make plans to improve.
Here are some ways to improve your planning process:
Understand where you are after Q2
Every team has its own challenges and opportunities, and the first step to improving your microservice quality is understanding your current situation. Use the end of Q2 to look back at what happened over the past quarter, and then set up for a great Q3.
Set metrics to track your performance
When looking back at Q2, the place to start is with your team’s goals for microservices and the metrics that measure your success. These will give you the clearest yardstick of how you’re doing.
On the other hand, if you aren’t tracking what’s happening with your microservices, it’s hard to know what you’ve improved and what needs to come next.
If your team doesn’t have goals and metrics clearly defined, this period is a good time to start developing them. That way when Q3 rolls around, you’ll be in a better position to do this reflection then. You’ll know what you’ve achieved and what still need improvement.
If you don’t know what to track, you can start by thinking about the pain points you faced managing your microservices. What was difficult? What caused downtime? What patterns did you see coming up?
You can also find pain points by doing a retrospective with partner teams like SREs or security. They can add a different perspective on what went wrong and what areas of improvement exist.
From these pain points, work backwards to find metrics. How can you measure how often issues are happening? How can you monitor their root causes? How can you tell you’ve improved?
You can also use these pain points to find some quick wins you can knock out in Q3, such as collecting metrics you were missing or setting up automatic vulnerability scanning to support your security team. Build a list of action items your team can take care of over the quarter.
With these metrics and action items, you’ll be able to look back at the end of Q3 and evaluate. Your team may not get to everything you identified, but you’ll be able to tell what you’ve done and what gaps still exist.
If you do have metrics set and tracked, you can evaluate how your team did over the quarter.
Take a look at your metrics at the individual microservice level and look for trends. Did any key indicators improve across them all? Did a majority of your services have a particular problem? Compare them to the baseline where you started in Q2.
You should automate collecting these metrics and building reports. That way, you don’t have to redo the work of building the report and up-to-date performance will be easily available. (Check out Cortex Scorecards: they make reporting easy by automatically fetching data from third parties—say, issues from your vulnerability scanner or uptime from your APM tool.)
Having these reports readily available will be key to tracking performance throughout Q3 and reviewing at the end of the quarter.
Set up better processes in Q3
As your team goes through Q3, keep in mind how you can maintain alignment with your goals and also prepare for the next planning cycle.
Communicate your goals widely and provide visibility
Set up a cadence to review reports with your team. Whether weekly, biweekly, or monthly, you should provide regular updates on what’s happening with your metrics. This keeps your team’s goals top of mind and confirms whether you’re making progress towards them.
Share your microservice goals widely with other teams so they know what you’re defining as microservice quality and how their work on it will be measured. Develop a communications strategy to continue reinforcing these goals across the entire quarter and beyond.
By making these goals clear and sharing them, you can align your team and other engineering leaders behind them. This makes it more likely that the projects they take on will consider and drive towards your goals for microservice quality.
Invest in the process
If you found it time-consuming or difficult to look back at the end of Q2, you can use this quarter as an opportunity to invest in improving your next round of planning.
At the end of Q3, you want to be able to say what your team did and what you need to do next quarter. Consider the pain points you had in the look-back process and find ways to make them easier. Was there data you needed but didn’t have? Were there stakeholders it would have been useful to hear from in hindsight?
You have time before the next planning cycle to prepare. If there are any metrics tracking or report automation tasks you couldn’t take care of at the end of Q2, your team could work them into Q3.
Now is the best time to start
The transition from Q2 into Q3 is the ideal time to take on this planning work and improvement. At many companies, once Q4 comes around, people are more likely to be out on vacation for long periods around the holidays. Work and communication slows down for many teams, and that makes building processes with your team more difficult.
If you’re an ecommerce team, however, you actually face an opposite problem: Q4 is a hotbed of activity and a lot of attention goes to managing urgent fires. That makes this planning cycle a critical opportunity to get ready. If your team has production readiness standards, review them and identify some tangible needs that you can get ahead of. They’ll pay dividends in Q4 and leave your team more breathing room as the holiday season approaches.
To help you plan better, try using Cortex Scorecards to automate the gathering and tracking of critical metrics. They provide visibility into how your services are performing and allow you to keep teams accountable. To see how Scorecards and the rest of Cortex’s suite of tools for engineering teams can help you improve your microservice quality throughout Q3 and beyond, book a free demo.