Efficient ways to manage Oncall Handovers

Oncall handovers are an essential part of any organisation's incident response process, which eventually helps any organisation in faster incident resolution and improved operational reliability.

Why Effective Oncall Handovers are Necessary?

In many industries, especially those that provide 24/7 services or support, on-call handovers are a necessary part of the job. These handovers occur when one person who is responsible for being on-call finishes their shift and passes the responsibility over to the next person who will be on-call. There are several reasons why on-call handovers are necessary.

Continuity of Service

If the person who is currently on-call encounters an issue that they are unable to resolve, they need to hand over to someone who can continue the work. By handing over the responsibility to another person, the service or support can continue without interruption. This ensures that customers or clients receive a consistent level of service, regardless of who is on-call.

Fresh Perspective

When a person has been on-call for an extended period, they can become fatigued, and their ability to make good decisions can be compromised. By handing over to someone fresh, the responsibility is shifted to someone with a clear mind who can approach the problem from a different angle. This fresh perspective can often lead to quicker and more effective solutions.

Ensure Accountability

When someone is on-call, they are responsible for the service or support they provide. If something goes wrong, they are accountable for any actions they take. By handing over to someone else, they are effectively transferring that accountability to another person. This ensures that there is always someone who is responsible for the service or support provided, which can lead to better decision-making and greater care taken.

Support

Being on-call can be a stressful and challenging experience, especially when the work is demanding or the hours are long. By handing over to someone else, the individual can take a break and rest, knowing that the responsibility has been passed on to someone else. This can help reduce stress and prevent burnout, which can ultimately lead to better performance.

Measurement

Another important aspect of on-call handovers is the measurement of incidents and oncall performance during the on-call period. By measuring incidents, organizations can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their on-call procedures and identify areas for improvement.

Measuring incidents during on-call periods can help organizations to:

  1. Identify recurring issues: By tracking incidents, organizations can identify patterns and trends in the types of issues that arise during on-call periods. This can help them to address recurring issues and prevent them from happening in the future.
  2. Evaluate on-call performance: Measuring incidents can also help organizations to evaluate the performance of their on-call staff. By tracking the number of incidents and how they were resolved, organizations can assess the effectiveness of their on-call procedures and identify areas for improvement.
  3. Monitor customer satisfaction: Incidents that occur during on-call periods can have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. By measuring incidents and tracking customer feedback, organizations can ensure that they are providing high-quality service during on-call periods and address any customer concerns in a timely manner.
  4. Analyze on-call workload: Measuring incidents can also help organizations to analyze the workload of their on-call staff. By tracking the number and type of incidents, organizations can ensure that their on-call staff are not overloaded and can provide effective support when needed.
  5. Benchmark against industry standards: Finally, measuring incidents during on-call periods can help organizations to benchmark their performance against industry standards. This can help them to identify areas where they are falling short and implement best practices to improve their on-call procedures.

In conclusion, measuring incidents during on-call periods is an important aspect of effective on-call handover procedures. By tracking incidents, organisations can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their on-call procedures and identify areas for improvement. This can help them to provide high-quality service or support during on-call periods and ensure that they are meeting customer expectations.

(We will discuss in details in a separate blog)

In conclusion, on-call handovers are a necessary part of many industries that provide 24/7 services or support. They ensure continuity of service, provide a fresh perspective, ensure accountability, and provide support for the individual. It also provides a mechanism to measure team’s incidence hygiene, oncall performace etc. By implementing effective on-call handover procedures, organizations can ensure that they provide consistent, high-quality service or support, while also taking care of their employees.

Ways to Manage Oncall Handover

Using a Standardized Handover Template

A handover template helps to ensure that all the necessary information is shared and nothing is missed. It should include details about the current status of ongoing incidents, known issues, and any ongoing maintenance activities.

When it comes to on-call handovers, having a well-designed template can help ensure that important information is communicated clearly and consistently between on-call team members. Here are some key elements to include in an on-call handover template:

  1. Contact information: The first section of the template should include the contact information of the on-call team members, including phone numbers and email addresses. This ensures that team members can easily get in touch with one another if needed.
  2. Schedule: The next section should include the on-call schedule, with the dates and times that each team member is responsible for being on-call. This ensures that all team members are aware of their responsibilities and can plan accordingly.
  3. Incident Summary: The template should include a section for summarizing any incidents that occurred during the on-call period, including the time, date, and nature of the incident. This ensures that team members are aware of any issues that arose during the previous on-call period and can take any necessary actions to address them.
  4. Action Taken: The next section should outline the actions that were taken to resolve each incident, including any escalations or follow-up actions that were required. This ensures that team members are aware of how each incident was resolved and can take any necessary actions to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
  5. Outstanding Issues: The template should include a section for documenting any outstanding issues that were not resolved during the on-call period. This ensures that team members are aware of any ongoing issues and can take any necessary actions to address them.

In conclusion, an on-call handover template should include contact information, the on-call schedule, incident summaries, actions taken, outstanding issues, and tips and best practices. By including these elements in the template, on-call team members can communicate important information effectively and ensure that they are providing high-quality service or support during their on-call periods.

Use a Centralized Incident Management Tool

A centralized incident management tool helps to streamline the handover process by providing a single source of truth for all incident-related information. It should allow team members to easily view and update the status of ongoing incidents, as well as provide a history of past incidents for reference.

Use Post-Incident Review (PIR) Processes / Root - Cause Analysis (RCA) :

A Post-Incident Review (PIR) is a process of reviewing an incident that has occurred within an organization in order to identify the root cause, assess the impact, and determine how to prevent future incidents. The PIR process is an important step in incident management and can provide valuable insights into an organization's operational and technical strengths and weaknesses. Here are some key steps to include in the PIR process:

  1. Identify the high severity and critical incidents:  This could be a major outage, security breach, or any other event that caused disruption or damage to the organization's operations or reputation.
  2. Assemble the review team: The review team should include representatives from various departments involved in the incident response process, as well as subject matter experts who can provide technical and operational insights. The team should be diverse and include individuals who are not directly involved in the incident response process.
  3. Gather data and evidence: The review team should gather data and evidence related to the incident, including incident reports, logs, and any other relevant documentation.
  4. Develop recommendations: Based on the findings of the review, the team should develop recommendations for preventing future incidents. These recommendations may include changes to processes, procedures, and technology, as well as training and education for staff.
  5. Implement the recommendations: Once the recommendations have been developed, they should be implemented as soon as possible. This may involve changes to the organization's infrastructure, processes, and training programs, and may require significant resources and investment.
  6. Follow up: The final step in the PIR process is to follow up on the implementation of the recommendations and ensure that they are effective in preventing future incidents. The organization should conduct regular reviews of its incident response procedures and make changes as necessary.

In conclusion, the Post-Incident Review process is an essential step in incident management that allows organizations to identify the root cause of an incident, assess its impact, and develop recommendations for preventing future incidents. By conducting thorough PIRs and implementing effective recommendations, organizations can minimize the risk of future incidents and ensure that their operations run smoothly and securely.

Check out Pagerly Incidence Response

Foster a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Encourage team members to actively seek out opportunities to improve oncall processes and procedures. This can include suggesting new tools or techniques, as well as identifying and addressing inefficiencies in the current process.

Summary

In summary, on-call handovers are important for ensuring that critical information is communicated effectively between team members. A well-designed template should include contact information, the on-call schedule, incident summaries, actions taken, outstanding issues, and tips and best practices. Post-Incident Reviews (PIRs) are a crucial part of incident management, allowing organizations to identify the root cause of an incident, assess its impact, and develop recommendations for preventing future incidents. The PIR process involves identifying the incident, assembling a review team, gathering data and evidence, conducting the review, developing recommendations, implementing the recommendations, and following up. By following these processes, organizations can minimize the risk of future incidents and ensure that their operations run smoothly and securely.

A well-designed template should include contact information, the on-call schedule, incident summaries, actions taken, outstanding issues, and tips and best practices. Post-Incident Reviews (PIRs) are a crucial part of incident management, allowing organizations to identify the root cause of an incident, assess its impact, and develop recommendations for preventing future incidents. The PIR process involves identifying the incident, assembling a review team, gathering data and evidence, conducting the review, developing recommendations, implementing the recommendations, and following up. By following these processes, organizations can minimize the risk of future incidents and ensure that their operations run smoothly and securely.

By following these tips, organizations can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their oncall handovers, resulting in faster incident resolution and improved operational reliability..

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