What is Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR)?
Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) is the amount of time it takes to resolve a bug. It’s also commonly referred to as Average Time to Resolution (ATR).
The formula for calculating MTTR, or average time to resolution, is:
Total Time Spend on Resolution / Number of Errors Worked On = MTTR
*Looking for an initial benchmark for your team? We suggest taking a look back at your last two to three sprint cycles to gather the approximate hours spent and the number of errors resolved.
The time-to-resolution metric is used by companies to understand how efficient their development teams are at pushing out fixes.
Why is MTTR Important?
For eCommerce, MTTR has a big impact on customer satisfaction and retention. When customers encounter issues with their experiences on your company’s website, they expect these problems to be resolved quickly so they can get back to shopping with your brand. If the incident response isn’t quick enough, this could lead to lost sales and negative reviews from unhappy customers.
Retailers want the average time to resolution to be as low as possible so that detected errors aren’t impacting others for too long.
When it comes to developers, though, MTTR is important for another reason altogether.
Why Your Developers Should Work to Reduce Mean Time to Resolution
Beyond the impact to customer satisfaction, mean time to resolution also has a significant impact on developers.
While the developer’s main job is to develop new code, error mitigation requests are an inevitable part of working in the department. Unfortunately, the method that they need to use to begin resolving issues requires a lot of time and repetition, which takes them away from developing that new code. Research shows that, with the current state of error resolution, developers are spending at least 25% of their time solely on debugging efforts (some studies estimate that this figure could actually be closer to 50%).
So it’s no surprise that this has proven to be incredibly frustrating for developers. Having developers spend all this time on code fixes also interrupts their planned projects, which impacts their ability to hit their department’s targets.
Both of these should be pretty strong motivators for decreasing MTTR. But how can a lower mean time to resolution be achieved?
Three Steps (and One Software) to Reduce Mean Time to Resolution
1. Identify Errors More Effectively
How is your team currently hearing about website errors? If it’s just from your customers, or directly from your stakeholders, it’s time for an update!
Being able to automatically identify site errors, as soon as they happen, means your developers can immediately know if they have to set time aside for resolutions. It also means that, rather than having to wait for an error to be called out by a customer, developers can proactively begin their resolution process, which decreases the amount of time the error is live on site.
The best way to start doing this is to bring on an error monitoring tool. Monitoring tools automate error detection for companies and help to ensure that the development team isn’t missing any critical site bugs. It will allow your team to stop spending so much time manually QA’ing their website, and allow them to rest assured that any new issues will be brought to their attention.
2. Prioritize Error Fixes
This might be a bit controversial, but not all errors are worth your developers’ time!
Ultimately, the reason retailers want to remove bugs from their website is because they impact the company’s ability to generate sales and collect revenue. However, if a bug doesn’t significantly impact the company’s bottom line, what is the point of putting a developer’s time into fixing it?
When we’re examining average time to resolution, we not only want to reduce the time it takes to solve an error, but also to reduce the total amount of time spent on errors as a whole.
By taking a look into an error’s direct impact on conversion and revenue metrics, teams can more accurately prioritize which bugs have meaningful and detrimental impacts on the business. With access to this data, managers can make a better determination as to what they want their developers to work on.
The only problem with this is that it also takes time to investigate an error’s impact on revenue and conversion. So while developers are saving time by only working on the most impactful errors, they are also losing time to impact investigation. This is obviously not helpful in reducing time to resolution.
Hope is not lost here, though!
There are tools on the market that can automatically calculate an error’s impact on a business, making prioritization possible in a matter of seconds, rather than hours. When paired with an error detection tool, your team can quickly identify all errors and understand which ones are the most pressing, meaning time to recovery is reduced and any critical negative customer experiences are addressed in the least amount of time possible.
3. Gather The Data Needed to Resolve
This step is where developers lose the most time, but it is also where teams can most significantly improve their MTTR.
Data gathering is an absolute must in order to know how to resolve an error, but this is not a simple task. The first step developers need to take to start their resolution process is to gather contextual information surrounding the error’s occurrence.
What URL is the error occurring on? What on-site actions prompt this error to occur? Is it only impacting customers browsing on Chrome, or Safari? Does the impact change when a customer switches devices?
These pieces of information help the developers reproduce the error, but unless the developers have direct access to this data right off the bat, they need to spend time testing out different scenarios (often referred to as reproduction workflows).
Once developers have gathered this data and are successfully able to recreate the error they are tasked with resolving, they must dive into the back end to try and identify the actual technical cause of the error. This requires fine-toothing through API calls, console logs, code firings, etc.
All of this takes time – hence why we’re seeing developers spend anywhere from 25-50% of their time on bug resolutions. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Much like with error detection and error prioritization, there are also tools on the market that automatically capture all the contextual and technical information developers need to more accurately reproduce errors, and allow them to do so in only a fraction of the time.
When developers already have access to the circumstances around an error, including the stack trace and actual line of code that caused the error, they are better enabled to test resolutions and push fixes live.
In fact, in speaking with developers that made the switch from the normalized processes used for error resolution over to resolving errors with the help of tools that provide automated detection, business impact calculations, and contextual and technical data around the error’s cause, they have been able to reduce the amount of time they spend on resolutions by 70%.
Software to Help Identify, Prioritize, and Resolve Errors Quickly
One of the tools available to eCommerce developers to help reduce MTTR is Noibu. Noibu’s software captures all conversion-impacting errors, automatically prioritizes them based on impact to the business, and provides a huge swath of technical and contextual data for developers to use.
With Noibu in place, countless eCommerce brands have seen overwhelmingly positive results for their business and their development team. You can check out some of their stories here.
As so many forward-looking organizations employ software to improve processes, it’s a little ridiculous that the majority of developers are still stuck manually reproducing errors over and over again.
Reducing your MTTR with the use of software helps improve customer satisfaction, and lets your development team do less of what they don’t want to do (work through tedious error reproduction flows) and more of what they do want to do – 55% of developers in a study by Rollbar said that if they didn’t have to spend so much time fixing bugs, they would have the time to build new features and functionality.
We hope that this article has opened your eyes to an infinitely faster way to resolve errors and reduce MTTR!