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UX monitoring in a transit company: a Pandora FMS case history

July 20, 2017

UX monitoring in a transit company: a Pandora FMS case history

This post is also available in: Spanish

09:00 A.M, on a beautiful Monday morning. The scene: a board meeting of a transit company.

– I’ve been going over the numbers for the last quarter, gentlemen, and let me tell you we find ourselves up against the same problem as always – begins the CEO – a couple of our provincial offices are complaining again about how slow the reservation application system is to access. Six months, gentlemen, and the IT department is still working on it. Why I oughta…I’m just about running out of patience here boys, I really am. Why, if I told you that just those two offices were responsible for 10% of our passenger volume and 15% of product transit, well…

The CIO spoke next.

– Well, it’s complicated. There are so many factors that I don’t know quite where to begin. My guys tell me that there is just no reason why those branches should be making such a commotion about the application, when not a single other branch is saying anything. We already checked all the systems involved – two times! I even sent my best man down there to those offices, in person, and see if he could find anything, but no. Nothing. Charlie. You know Charlie? Well, he came back scratching his head, saying there was nothing strange going on.

Director of Customer Attention:

– We’re also getting some pretty negative feedback from the customers themselves via the website.

-Well, if “you” don’t want to be “ex” employees – the CEO joked, steelily – you need to improve our UX.

The meeting went on, coffee went cold. Sandwiches went stale and yellow at their edges. The CIO left the meeting tasked with coming back with answers. Finally the transit company decided to install a monitoring platform: Pandora FMS. And now, speeding forward in time we can see what Pandora FMS has done for them.

  • Firstly, the CIO will never have to pronounce the dread phrase “the guys in the department tell me…” Pandora FMS comes with a powerful report system, which can tailor the information it contains to the specific profile of the reader – whether they are technical or non-technical personnel. The CIO can now present detailed reports on the status of the systems in real time, or with historical data; as up-to-the-minute as you want them to be.
  • Secondly, Pandora FMS can create a service map showing all related elements, both internal and external: servers, routers, databases, communication lines, OSs, virtual systems, etc., plus indicate which elements are functioning outside their configured parameters.
  • Finally, Pandora FMS v. 7 comes with a UX simulator, which launches recurring procedures that mimic the actions of a customer activity on your website (buying tickets, making reservations, looking up information…). The UX monitor measures response times during all phases of the operation, from outside your own web, recreating exactly the user’s experience.

The CIO’s conclusions?

  • The internal complaints coincided with drops in bandwidth, incompatible with the contract with the provider. Immediate conclusion: review all contracts with the provider, show them the data, seek redress and find a new provider.
  • Some specific complaints were unfounded, and were subjective opinions rather than demonstrable facts. A quick cross-reference with other operators highlighted that the conditions were the same for all staff, and any perceived decline in communication quality was only a subjective perception.
  • The question of the website was trickier. A bottleneck was found, affecting response times, located between the database that supported the application, and the application itself. Monitoring demonstrated that no components of the network were saturated, but that still some queries were taking a long time to resolve. The CIO handed the matter over to the internal developers for them to review the application with the supplier.

Moral:
Pandora FMS is the CIO’s perfect back up for difficult meetings, a real time tool for meeting any challenge raised by other departments. In the IT department itself system errors are now quickly identified and solutions found in record time.

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