IT On-Call Management, also referred to as On-Call Management, is a process that helps organizations to manage and optimize their on-call schedules and protocols. With the use of software, companies can improve their on-call processes, to ensure their on-call team operates as efficiently as possible. We also refer to this as escalation management.
The aim of on-call management is to ensure that colleagues are able to carry out all their tasks while also being able to recover fully, in order to avoid burnout.
There are several challenges associated with on-call management in IT, including:
1. Excessive time demands
On-Call shifts can be tiring, and require employees to be available at any time. This can leave them feeling overworked and burnt out.
2. Lack of sleep
It can also be difficult for employees to get enough sleep when they are on-call. This can lead to tiredness and lower productivity.
3. Difficulty predicting and managing workload
It is hard for employees to predict their workload during their on-call shift, which leads to frustration. It can also be difficult for them to manage their workload effectively while on-call. They may be interrupted by calls or other emergencies.
4. Competing priorities and inflexible planning
Employees may find that their on-call time conflicts with other important commitments, such as childcare or family obligations. This makes it difficult to juggle all responsibilities.
5. Job security concerns
Employees may fear being replaced if they are not available for on-call shifts, or if they do not perform enough duties during their on-call hours. This can lead to stress and anxiety.
IT on-call management used to be much more difficult than it is today. It came about out of necessity, and was reactive, informal and unorganized. The people who set up the IT system were often on-call unofficially. It was necessary to track manually who was on-call, and when their shift ended. You also had to rely on emails or phone calls to get in touch with the on-call team. It was a time-consuming and error-prone process. Furthermore, there was no transfer of knowledge, no statistics, and no visibility into incidents, problems, or remediation. The Wild West of on-call management, so to speak.
No one could put up with this system for long; it simply churned through employees. The next stage of on-call management provided more transparency, and responsibility was expanded (mostly voluntarily) to a larger group of people. From this point on, incidents were analyzed better, knowledge recorded better, and planned measures for emergencies were established accordingly. Yet the voluntary responsibility for on-call duties still clashed with the regular tasks employees had to carry out.
Next came the permanently scheduled employees who could react to incidents. In addition, they studied the incidents in detail and developed solutions to reduce the likelihood of problems in future, or to avoid them entirely. This is when status pages or the first monitoring tools emerged. Before this, it was often up to the customers to alert companies to their problems. This is, of course, awful for an organization's reputation.
But those times are over. Nowadays IT on-call management is much more professional. Internally there are clear responsibilities as well as best practices, detailing the way in which incidents must be handled.
State of the art on-call management software supports companies in a variety of ways:
Automate and manage on-call planning
Software for on-call management helps companies to manage and automate on-call planning, which ensures that every shift is sufficiently staffed to provide adequate coverage. This also involves on-call performance tracking, which gives organizations the ability to monitor the performance of their on-call team to identify areas for improvement.
Improving on-call reaction times
Through reliable alarms and intelligent call-routing, reaction times at critical moments can be considerably reduced - often turning hours into minutes. Every second counts - one minute of downtime costs on average $9,000.
This involves setting up escalation chains with the software that connects alarm sources to the appropriate members of the on-call team.
Status pages inform both stakeholders and users about the current situation. In this way, on-call software enables incident communication to be automated, e.g. in conjunction with monitoring tools.
On-call management software is a valuable tool for companies of all sizes that need to manage their on-call services more effectively. It allows companies to save time, money and nerves, all while improving the quality of their on-call services. Naturally, this then has a positive impact on customer experience.