I love stories about performance problems. Recently, my friend Debra Lilley sent me this one:

I went to see a very large publishing company about 6 months after they went live. I asked them what their biggest issue was, and they told me querying in GL was very slow, and I was able to fix quite easily. (There was a very simple concatenated index trick for the Chart of Accounts segments that people just never used.) Then I asked if there was anything else. The manager said no but the clerk who sat behind him said, “I have a problem.” His manager seemed embarrassed, but when I pressed him, the clerk continued, “Every day I throw away reams of paper from our invoice listing.”

I asked to look at the request, which ran a simple listing of all invoices entered at a scheduled time each day. I opened up the schedule screen and there was a tick box to “Increment date on each run.” This was not ticked, and they were running the report from day 1, every day. When they accepted the system at go live there was no issue. I think all system implementations should include a 3- or 6-month review. Regardless of how good the implementers are, their setup is based on the information known at the time. In production, that information (volumes, etc.) often changes, and when it does, it can affect your decisions.

My friends Connie Smith and Lloyd Williams call this performance antipattern The Ramp. With the ramp, processing duration increases as the system is used. This invoicing system exhibited ramp behavior, because every invoicing process execution would take just a little bit longer and print just a few more pages than the prior execution did.

Read more about The Ramp on my blog.