Automating On-Call Scheduling With Squadcast: Simplify Managing Schedules

February 8, 2024
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Automating On-Call Scheduling With Squadcast: Simplify Managing Schedules
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    Navigating an extensive excel sheet to determine On-Call schedules and vacation plans can be daunting. The struggle of maintaining On-Call Schedules manually is real. But we've got a solution that can help. This blog addresses the challenges associated with manualOn Call Scheduling processes.

    Challenges in Manual On-Call Scheduling

    Many companies resort to traditional methods, like Excel sheets or internal applications, to manage their On-Call rosters. However, these approaches often prove to be laborious and error-prone, leading to inefficiencies in scheduling and notification processes. Maintaining On-Call schedules through conventional means presents several challenges:

    1. Frequent Changes and Updates

    Manually updating On-Call schedules in Excel sheets or internal systems can be a cumbersome and error-prone task. With teams constantly changing, holidays, leaves, and rotations to accommodate, ensuring the accuracy of these schedules can become a major challenge.

    2. Inflexible Schedule Patterns

    Traditional methods often struggle to adapt to different schedule patterns, whether it's business hours, non-business hours, round-the-clock coverage, or other rotation schedules. Creating and managing these patterns manually can be time-consuming and rigid.

    How To Automate On-Call Scheduling with Squadcast?

    Squadcast's automated On-Call scheduling offers a robust solution to these challenges, streamlining the scheduling process and enhancing operational efficiency.

    1. Recurring Schedule Creation

    Squadcast simplifies the creation of recurring schedules, making it a one-time task. Once set up, these schedules automatically repeat according to the predefined pattern. This customization extends to various schedule types, accommodating your specific business requirements.

    To create a recurring schedule with Squadcast:

    • Choose your team/squad > navigate to Schedules in the primary navigation > Click Add Schedule > Fill in the Schedule Name, Schedule Description & Schedule Color.
    • Click on a day in the calendar to start creating a shift. Enter the name for this shift. Choose the schedule for this On-Call shift. Specify the start and end times.
    • Define recurrence by selecting from daily, weekly, or monthly recurrence. Customize frequency by selecting everyday, Weekly Once a week, Weekly Particular Days Of a Week, or Custom.
    • For Custom, define the interval in days/weeks/months for the On-Call to repeat. 
    • To create a recurring schedule, ensure the Ends checkbox is marked as Never.
    • Under Assignee Groups, add users responsible for the shift. You may use Add Group for multiple rotations. 
    • You can also choose the number of shifts after which rotation switches. For example, Every Shift alternates between assigned groups every shift. Whereas Every 7 Shifts Rotates between assigned groups in 7-shift cycles.

    By following these steps, you can establish a recurring schedule in Squadcast for your team's On-Call duties.

    2. Seamless Notification through Escalation Policies

    With Squadcast, On-Call notifications become seamless. Escalation policies ensure that the designated On-Call personnel are automatically notified based on predefined rules. This eliminates the need for manual intervention and enhances incident response times.

    • In the Squadcast App from the navigation sidebar click on Escalation policy. Then you can create one from scratch by clicking onto Add Escalation Policy. 

    You can add all necessary details like entering the appropriate time for Escalate After, giving enough notice for your recipients to acknowledge the alert after which it will escalate to the next level (if defined). All of this is automated.

    Moreover, as an Admin, you can choose notification channels (Email, Push, SMS, Phone) to specify how mapped users receive incident alerts.

    3. Overrides for Special Occasions like Sudden Leave or Planned Vacation

    Squadcast tackles the challenge of handling special occasions, holidays, and leaves. The platform allows users to easily incorporate these events into the schedules using overrides. This feature ensures accurate representation of team availability even during exceptional circumstances.

    4. Integration with Calendar Platforms and Slack

    The benefits of automating On-Call scheduling extend to integration with your preferred tools. Squadcast enables users to export current schedules to their calendar platforms, providing a holistic view of On-Call rotations. Moreover, with On-Call APIs, Slack users can quickly identify who's on call directly from their Slack workspace.

    Common Use Cases

    1. Create and customize recurring On-Call schedules based on business hours, non-business hours, 24/7 coverage, or specific patterns for flexibility.
    2. Handle On-Call rotations without manual intervention ensuring automatic notifications to the right On-Call personnel.
    3. Incorporate holiday schedules or leave periods using overrides in the On-Call schedules.
    4. Allow users to view On-Call shifts within their preferred calendar platform.

    Benefits of Automating On-Call Scheduling

    The advantages of adopting Squadcast for automated On-Call scheduling are multifold:

    1. Customization and Adaptability

    Squadcast allows for tailored scheduling solutions, accommodating diverse patterns, and organizational needs. Whether it's specific shift timings or varying rotation cycles, the platform adapts to your requirements.

    2. Enhanced Communication

    Automated escalation policies ensure that the right team members are promptly notified during incidents. This streamlined communication leads to quicker incident resolution and minimized downtime.

    3. Real-time Visibility

    With Squadcast, real-time visibility into On-Call schedules becomes a reality. Teams can easily determine who's on call, enabling efficient collaboration and reducing the need for constant inquiries.

    4. Integration 

    Seamless integration with calendar platforms and Slack enhances user experience. The ability to view On-Call schedules in the tools you frequently use reduces the need for manual cross-referencing and provides a unified workspace.

    5. Efficiency and Time Savings

    By automating repetitive scheduling tasks, Squadcast frees up valuable time for your teams. This time can be redirected towards more strategic initiatives, contributing to overall productivity gains.

    Answering Common Queries within the Squadcast Platform

    Within the Squadcast platform, users often have specific questions regarding On-Call scheduling. Here are some common inquiries and their solutions:

    Who's On Call Right Now?

    Squadcast's intuitive interface allows users to quickly identify who's on call at any given moment. Using the Squadcast Web App follow these instructions:

    • Spot current On-Call users in the top right corner.
    • Click the On-Call icon to see the associated Schedule and engineer.
    • Access an engineer's profile, Schedules, Squads, and Escalation Policies by clicking their name.

    On the Squadcast Mobile App you can access Schedules in the sidebar to view ongoing/upcoming schedules. Similar to the web app, you’ll find the shift info and member details provided for each shift.

    How to View On Call Schedules?

    To view On-Call Schedules 

    • Navigate to Schedules in the sidebar to see ongoing/upcoming schedules. 
    • You’ll find different calendar views: monthly, weekly, daily, and list formats. Monthly, Weekly, Day, and List views showcase shift details. 
    • Click on a schedule to view its details, including the assigned users and rotation groups. 
    • You can also view the On-Call shifts and their start and end dates within the schedule.

    How to Communicate With the Specific Person of the Team On Call?

    For organizations with multiple teams, Squadcast enables seamless team-based scheduling. Users can easily identify On-Call engineers within specific teams and even communicate with them directly.

    How to Manage Holidays and Leaves During On Call Schedules?

    Overrides within Squadcast provide the solution for managing holidays, leaves, and other exceptional events. This ensures that the schedules remain accurate and up-to-date.

    To override a schedule in Squadcast, follow these steps:

    • Navigate to Schedules in the primary navigation and click on the schedule you want to override.
    • Click on the "Add Override" button. Enter the necessary details for the override, such as the start and end date/time, assignee groups, and any additional notes.
    • Click on "Create" to save the override.

    Within the scheduled view, setting up overrides is now simplified with our improved Schedules & On-Call Rotations. By clicking on a user, a pop-up window appears, enabling you to indicate the reason for the override. Squadcast automatically determines the number of shifts the original On-Call had for the override period. The slot is then updated with the overriding user(s).

    How to Sync On Call Schedules with Calendar Platforms and Slack?

    Squadcast's integration capabilities extend to syncing schedules with calendar platforms and Slack. This allows for easy access and visibility, directly from the apps you rely on. To sync Squadcast On-Call schedules with calendar platforms and Slack, follow these steps:

    • Navigate to Schedules in Squadcast. Click on the Export Schedule icon next to the schedule you want to sync.
    • Choose whether you want to export your own On-Call schedule or the entire On-Call schedule.
    • Copy the Calendar link provided and paste it into your preferred calendar app (such as Outlook, iCal, or Google Calendar) or Slack.

    Read More: How Mapgears Simplified their complex On-call Alerting process 

    Prepare Your Team For Better On Call Automation

    Squadcast helps simplify Incident Management and On-Call processes by automating On-Call scheduling. By addressing the challenges of manual scheduling, Squadcast not only provides efficient solutions but also unlocks a host of benefits for organizations seeking streamlined workflows, enhanced communication, and optimal resource utilization.

    Read More: Redis' Journey to Efficient Incident Management With Squadcast

    Squadcast is a Reliability Workflow platform that integrates On-Call alerting and Incident Management along with SRE workflows in one offering. Designed for a zero-friction setup, ease of use and clean UI, it helps developers, SREs and On-Call teams proactively respond to outages and create a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

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    February 8, 2024
    February 8, 2024
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    By moving to Squadcast from Pagerduty, we have seen a serious reduction in alert fatigue, allowing us to focus...
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    Best IT Management Products 2022 Squadcast is a leader in Europe IT Alerting on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Enterprise Incident Management on G2
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