A step change in services…

Or “the importance of operations…”

Both ATP and the Talk Show spent a long time this week discussing how Apple has managed to make a step change in app review times in less than a week. Review times have dropped overnight from about a week to less than a day. Everyone is busy guessing how and why?

First, the original state of the service was odd. For the last five years reviews have taken about a week. This has been stable; summer and winter, year after year. There is no obvious reason why. There must be some change in the number of requests for review but the output has been constant. My guess is that this is an example of Parkinson’s Law, there is some service level set at about a week and the team has managed to that level.

So how did they break the performance levels of the last five years in less than a week?

Changes of this magnitude are normally made by changing one of three things:

  • Process
  • Policy
  • People

In both podcasts they concentrated on Process, especially the possibility that there has been added automation. Some new tool that has suddenly made a step change. However…

Normally to get the best out of new tools and automation, there also has to be a change to policy. Policy needs to be simplified so that the machine can make a difference. Negotiating the policy change in a massive organisation the size of Apple must be a nightmare.

Finally, People. This is where I think the timing is important. Tim Cook is in India this week, wandering around opening centers and talking about the importance of India to Apple. I’d love to know if in all of this some part of the App Review process has been moved to India. There is an army of people doing these operations and India is the place where services are now done on this scale.

I’m willing to bet that Apple has made changes on all three axis to pull this off and sadly we’ll never know the details.