What is Burst Capability and Why is it Important?

Scott Batchelor

For many digital products, their use and importance don’t follow a consistent upward trend. Real-life events often dictate a necessity for increased developer attention as user bases undergo rapid expansion, with massive repercussions if something goes wrong during these periods.

Read on for our run-down on what burst capability is, why it is important, and how to find an agency capable of fully supporting your product roadmap.  

What is Burst Capability?

Some digital products become more useful as a result of a specific event or time of the year. During these periods of increased importance and usage, it is imperative that unpredictable issues do not reduce project velocity in any way.

Burst capability refers to a development agency’s ability to increase capacity for your project both in the run-up to and during these busy times, ensuring that your project is prepared and supported throughout business-critical periods.

Why is Burst Capability Important?

Digital product development can be unpredictable. Issues are often sporadic but can increase in likelihood the more that a system is being used. If your product experiences an outage during an important period and your development partner does not have the capacity to fix it quickly, you leave yourself vulnerable to serious user drop-offs and lost revenue.

For example, digital products linked to the management of a live event or physical product launches must provide a reasonable continuation of service with a consistent user experience and performance. If customers are unable to access the service at critical moments, or experience issues that affect their usage of a physical product, brand reputation, user retention rates, and ultimately product effectiveness are all damaged.  

Working closely with an experienced development partner allows you to focus on the event or launch period, safe in the knowledge that a dedicated team of experts are reactively supporting your product and communicating any issues that may arise, using more resources as necessary to ensure service is uninterrupted.

Similarly, you may want to create an application that serves a purpose in response to a real-life event. For example, as the Coronavirus began to affect more people around the globe a number of countries began work on contact tracing applications. Due to the time-sensitive nature of these projects, developers were required to use more resources in a bid to reach the public quicker.

In choosing a development partner with burst capability, you not only provide redundancy for when things go wrong, protecting your brand and ROI, but you have a supplier able to rapidly develop and implement new solutions when necessary- provided an agreement on this is reached at the beginning of the partnership.

Burst Capability vs Support

It is easy to confuse burst capability with the standard support packages offered by most development agencies. 

Whilst support covers the normal day-to-day bugs that occur as the result of changes to the device operating system, unexpected user actions or issues with a product back-end, support teams are generally unable to make rapid changes unless it causes a complete drop-off in service. This is covered as part of a service-level agreement, or SLA.

Burst capability refers to having additional development capability on standby, ready to ensure any and all issues are rectified quickly. This allows you to pivot quickly on user feedback and ensure that any bugs identified during the busy period are resolved quickly and efficiently. 

In addition, it means that in the run-up to the busy period you have more available hours for the implementation of features based on user feedback testing. This ensures that your product is as complete as possible before the rapid increase in usership.

Do All Agencies Have Burst Capability?

In order to offer burst capability, agencies must have enough internal resources and experience to increase attention to your project without a drop-in service for their other clients. This requires extensive planning, and may not be feasible for small agencies or large/mid-sized agencies with limited resources in one or more departments.

If your digital product requires burst capability, it is a good idea to ask prospective suppliers about their capacity to fulfill your needs when discussing your initial contract. By making this requirement apparent from the start, agencies will be able to plan additional resource according to your product roadmap, ensuring your continued success through rapid expansion.   


Looking for a delivery partner that will work with you to identify, create and launch innovative technology products whilst providing clear ROI and long-term competitive advantage? Read our case studies or get in touch today.

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