2014 was the first year that Andy Neilson, performance lead at Marks & Spencer, attended Velocity. It was a watershed event. Inspired by what he learned at Velocity, Andy has used it to help shape performance at M&S. In this talk, Andy shares M&S’s performance journey, what they learned along the way, and where they plan to go from here.
In the spring of 2014, some key things happened after marksandspencer.com launched on a new platform, to be managed in-house after years being hosted on Amazon. After launch, the company began a transition to agile delivery and Andy was asked to lead the performance team with the remit to “shape it."
With no background in performance, Andy focused on what was already in place, focusing on back-end and infrastructure performance… a continuation of the old ways of working. But once that work was completed in September 2014, he had two new questions on his mind:
These questions led to Velocity Barcelona, where Andy realised that his ideas aligned with what people were saying at the conference. He came away with the confidence to proceed, knowing that there were huge opportunities for performance wins.
In the following 12 months, his team created a PerfOps framework, and kicked off a number of initiatives to bring it to life. These initiatives included:
Andrew Neilson is currently part of the M&S.com delivery team, heading up their PerfOps team, and is responsible for the performance across the breadth of the M&S.com business.
The PerfOps team has evolved from a traditional Performance Engineering team, to adapt to agile ways of working and to manage performance risk on the live site. All their new initiatives have evolved from Velocity 2014 and vendor relationships, as part of Andrew’s research to define what performance means for M&S.com. Andrew has been part of M&S.com for nearly four years, previously delivering the enterprise middleware, reporting, and finance systems. Prior to this, he worked for seven years with Accenture, as part of their retail practice focusing on e-commerce.
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