Getting started with Squadcast’s On-Call Scheduling

May 29, 2023
Share this post:
Getting started with Squadcast’s On-Call Scheduling
Table of Contents:

    We understand that everyone values a simple and straightforward approach when it comes to setting up schedules. We at Squadcast are fully aware of the difficulties involved in creating an on-call schedule from scratch or migrating it to a new platform. Hence we have come up with a blog to assist you in seamlessly setting up your on-call schedule using Squadcast. Our goal is to provide guidance and support to make the process as effortless as possible for you.

    Pitfalls of On-Call Scheduling

    1. Unclear responsibilities

    The nature of being on-call can vary among organizations. Even within the same organization, different teams may have distinct on-call structures. It can also differ based on the specific systems or services being monitored and the corresponding service-level agreements (SLAs) in effect.

    For instance, companies operating across multiple countries and time zones may face unique challenges compared to those with a small team situated in a single location. These variations in circumstances can often lead to unclear responsibilities and make defining on-call duties more complex.

    2. Lack of flexibility

    Every organization can reasonably expect that their employees’ lives may be unpredictable at times and will require some level of shift swapping and schedule changes. For example, a personal emergency may prevent someone from being available. These instances can arise at any time without warning.

    3. Infrequent or absent rotation

    Having the same people on-call all the time can be unfair and doesn’t allow for a flexible work-life balance. There should be a program in place to rotate on-call responsibility across multiple employees to even out this work. That way, everyone gets adequate time off work and has time free from on-call responsibilities.

    Understanding Squadcast's Ecosystem

    Before we help you set up your first on-call schedule in Squadcast, and address pitfalls mentioned above, here are some important terminologies about Schedules in Squadcast that you should know:

    Teams

    Most organizations are divided into various different operational units called teams to allow them to manage, design and increase the efficiency of their business operations. These operational units remain responsible for the problems which occur in their own environments.

    Squads

    These are smaller groups of members within Teams. Squads could correspond to groups of people that are responsible for specific projects within a Team. These are especially useful for adding groups of people to be on-call in a Schedule. Squads are also handy when you need to notify the entire group together.

    Users

    A user is responsible for taking action on incidents that page you while you are on-call. Users, by default, have the ability to customize their Profile, Notification Rules, respond to, and resolve incidents. Typically, Users are the Engineers, SREs, Systems Engineers or anyone in your team that handles incident management & on-call.

    Stakeholders

    These are typically the other participants from the Organization who may have an interest in the incident management process. They could be Product Managers, Customer Support Representatives, CxOs, and so on.

    Escalation Policies

    Escalation Policies ensure that the right people are notified at the right time. Incident notifications can be configured to escalate to Users, Squads or Schedules in a given order and time. You can create different Escalation Policies for different Services.

    Creating your On-Call schedule from scratch

    To kickstart the creation of your on-call schedule, navigate to the Schedules section and click on the "Add Schedule" button.

    The next screen will guide you through three easy creation steps. You can seamlessly navigate between these steps by simply clicking on any of the steps displayed on the top bar. It's a user-friendly process designed to make setting up your on-call schedule a breeze.

    1.Adding Schedule Details

    Start by entering the Name, Timezone, Owner, Tags, and an optional Description for the schedule.

    How to pick a Time Zone?

    When setting up your schedules, it's important to consider different time zones, especially if you're working with a distributed team. You can easily ensure that your shift timings are accurate by configuring each schedule for a specific timezone. Simply add a tag to indicate which timezone is affected by the schedule, like "L1 APAC On-call." This way, everyone stays on the same page, no matter where they're located.

    How to pick an Owner?

    Tip1: You can assign a user, squad, or team as a schedule owner.

    Tip2: You can give your schedules meaningful names that reflect the pattern it follows (24x7, Business, Non-Business, Weekend), the team it is defined for (24x7 L1), and the timezone it affects (L1 APAC on-call).

    How to use Tags?

    Tags are a great way to bring organization and context to your schedules. By using tags like "Type: 24x7 Business," "Environment: Prod," and "Team: 24x7 L1," you can effectively structure your schedules and provide additional context. These tags help you categorize and classify your schedules, making it easier to manage and understand them at a glance. So go ahead and leverage tags to enhance the organization and clarity of your scheduling process.

    The next step is to choose a Rotation Pattern. To do that click on Next: Choose Rotation Template, and then navigate to the next step.

    2. Choosing a Rotation Pattern

    You can pick a rotation pattern from the predefined templates. These templates cover some of the most common use cases. Alternatively, you can set up rotations from scratch using the Add one or more custom rotations or events option. Simply use the "Add one or more custom rotations or events" option. This gives you the flexibility to tailor the rotations according to your team's needs. By default, Squadcast selects the Daily 24x7 rotation pattern for your schedule.

    Note: You can change rotation timings & add users in the next step.

    If you wish to customize your Rotations, click on Next: Customize Rotation Pattern, and navigate to the next step.

    3. Customize Rotations

    • Add Participants: Enter the participant groups in the order of the rotation. Add more participant groups using the Add participant group button. Each participant group contains one or more users or squads. The rotations happen across participant groups, not within each group's participants.
    • Start Date: Enter the Start Date of the rotation.
    • Repeats: Repetitions can be daily, weekly, monthly, or custom. You can also restrict the schedules to specific times of the day or during specific days of the week, or month based on your need. Now, choose the appropriate option:
    • None: Use this to create a stand-alone event. (Note: This is not an override, overrides can be set up separately).
    • Daily: Use this to create a daily schedule (applicable for all 7 days of the week).
    • Weekly: On-call repeats every day, weekly
    • Monthly: On-call repeats every day, monthly
    • Custom: Use this to create any other custom shift of your choice. You can customize the number of days/weeks/months you want the on-call to repeat.
    • Change Participants: You can change participants according to the repeat rotation function, i.e., change participants for every new rotation
    • On-call Start and End Time: Select the Start and End Time for the rotation. This period can span a maximum of 24 hours.
    • On-call hours/ Day: Select the number of hours you want this rotation to be on-call per day.
    • End Date: Add the End Date for the rotation. You can choose from:
    • Rotation Name: Enter a name for the rotation.
    • Rotation Color: Choose a color for your rotation. By default, each of the rotations of every schedule has a color selected (as shown in the preview). Users can choose other color options via the color picker to distinguish between rotations in the schedule.

    Tip: You can leverage scheduled overrides to address holidays or schedule conflicts.

    Click Save to complete creating the Schedule.

    Note: Add the Schedule to an Escalation Policy to activate it.

    Gaps in your Schedule

    When setting up your schedule, it's crucial to make sure there are no gaps. You can easily keep an eye on any gaps in your schedule during the creation process or by checking the details page. Just use the handy "View Gaps" toggle to see them.

    In the Schedule view, any identified gaps will be highlighted in red. This visual cue helps you quickly spot any missing shifts or coverage. If you do come across any gaps, don't worry! You can easily make edits to your on-call schedule to fill in those empty slots and ensure seamless coverage.

    Tip: You can use the View Gaps toggle during Schedule creation to ensure there are no gaps.

    Exporting a Schedule

    You have the option to sync your Squadcast schedule with other calendar tools that you use, like Outlook, iCal, and Google Calendar. By syncing your schedules, you can easily stay on top of your commitments and avoid any scheduling conflicts. You can integrate your Squadcast schedule with your preferred calendar tool for a seamless experience. No more jumping between different platforms to keep track of your on-call duties!

    Syncing Squadcast schedules with your calendar tools

    Squadcast makes exporting your schedule a breeze. Simply navigate to Schedules and click on the Export Schedule icon, against the schedule you want to export. 

    Now, here's the fun part. You get to choose whether you want to export your own individual on-call schedule or the entire on-call schedule. Whichever option suits your needs, Squadcast has got you covered.

    After you've made your selection, a handy Calendar link will be generated. Just copy that link and paste it into the calendar app of your choice. This way, you can effortlessly sync your Squadcast schedule with your preferred calendar tool. It's all about making your life easier and keeping your schedule in perfect harmony.

    Edit participants of an existing schedule

    Adding users to an existing schedule

    Here is how you can add users to a schedule in Squadcast, first, navigate to the Schedules section and look for the schedule you want to modify and click on the Edit Participants icon next to it.

    To add users, simply use the "Type participant's name" option. You can enter the names of the users you want to include in the schedule. Squadcast will take care of the rest.

    With just a few clicks and some typing, you'll have your schedule updated with the right participants.

    Removing users from a schedule

    Here is how you can remove users from an existing schedule. Simply Navigate to Schedules and click on the Edit Participants icon against the schedule you wish to add users to. Next hover over the participant group and click Edit. Now go ahead and remove the participants individually and click Save.

    That's it! With these simple steps, you can easily remove users from your schedule. 

    Schedule Overrides

    You can leverage scheduled overrides to address holidays or schedule conflicts. To create an override,

    Simply navigate to Schedules and click on the Edit Rotations icon, against the schedule where you want to create an override. As a next step hover over any participant group, and click on Override. Go ahead and enter the duration for which you’re creating an override then select Reason from one of the prompts or type your own. Finally select the user you want to assign all your slots in this duration and click Save. And you are done!

    In fact there is lot more you can do to make your schedule overrides more effective, refer this link to know more about it.

    Delete a Schedule

    You can delete a schedule if it is no longer needed. To delete a schedule, head over to schedules and click on the Delete Schedule icon, against the schedule you wish to delete and click on Delete. And your schedule will be deleted.

    Conclusion

    Creating an effective On-Call schedule is crucial for ensuring the success of any organization or business that requires high availability. A well-planned on-call schedule can improve employee satisfaction, reduce burnout, and increase productivity. We hope this blog helped you create your On-Call Schedule in Squadcast. In case you wish to know more about creating and managing On-Call Schedules, feel free to refer to our detailed On-Call Schedules Documentation.

    Squadcast is an incident management tool that’s purpose-built for SRE. Get rid of unwanted alerts, receive relevant notifications and integrate with popular ChatOps tools. Work in collaboration using virtual incident war rooms and use automation to eliminate toil.

    squadcast
    Written By:
    May 29, 2023
    May 29, 2023
    Share this post:
    Subscribe to our LinkedIn Newsletter to receive more educational content
    Subscribe now

    Subscribe to our latest updates

    Enter your Email Id
    Thank you! Your submission has been received!
    Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
    FAQ
    More from
    Vishal Padghan
    Demystifying Digital Operations: A Comprehensive Overview
    Demystifying Digital Operations: A Comprehensive Overview
    February 16, 2024
    Introducing Squadcast and ServiceNow Integration For Enhanced Operational Efficiency & Faster Incident Management
    Introducing Squadcast and ServiceNow Integration For Enhanced Operational Efficiency & Faster Incident Management
    February 14, 2024
    System Reliability Metrics: A Comparative Guide to MTTR, MTBF, MTTD, and MTTF
    System Reliability Metrics: A Comparative Guide to MTTR, MTBF, MTTD, and MTTF
    January 29, 2024
    Learn how organizations are using Squadcast
    to maintain and improve upon their Reliability metrics
    Learn how organizations are using Squadcast to maintain and improve upon their Reliability metrics
    mapgears
    "Mapgears simplified their complex On-call Alerting process with Squadcast.
    Squadcast has helped us aggregate alerts coming in from hundreds...
    bibam
    "Bibam found their best PagerDuty alternative in Squadcast.
    By moving to Squadcast from Pagerduty, we have seen a serious reduction in alert fatigue, allowing us to focus...
    tanner
    "Squadcast helped Tanner gain system insights and boost team productivity.
    Squadcast has integrated seamlessly into our DevOps and on-call team's workflows. Thanks to their reliability...
    Alexandre Lessard
    System Analyst
    Martin do Santos
    Platform and Architecture Tech Lead
    Sandro Franchi
    CTO
    Squadcast is a leader in Incident Management on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Mid-Market IT Service Management (ITSM) Tools on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Americas IT Alerting on G2 Best IT Management Products 2022 Squadcast is a leader in Europe IT Alerting on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Mid-Market Asia Pacific Incident Management on G2 Users love Squadcast on G2
    Squadcast awarded as "Best Software" in the IT Management category by G2 🎉 Read full report here.
    What our
    customers
    have to say
    mapgears
    "Mapgears simplified their complex On-call Alerting process with Squadcast.
    Squadcast has helped us aggregate alerts coming in from hundreds of services into one single platform. We no longer have hundreds of...
    Alexandre Lessard
    System Analyst
    bibam
    "Bibam found their best PagerDuty alternative in Squadcast.
    By moving to Squadcast from Pagerduty, we have seen a serious reduction in alert fatigue, allowing us to focus...
    Martin do Santos
    Platform and Architecture Tech Lead
    tanner
    "Squadcast helped Tanner gain system insights and boost team productivity.
    Squadcast has integrated seamlessly into our DevOps and on-call team's workflows. Thanks to their reliability metrics we have...
    Sandro Franchi
    CTO
    Revamp your Incident Response.
    Peak Reliability
    Easier, Faster, More Automated with SRE.
    Incident Response Mobility
    Manage incidents on the go with Squadcast mobile app for Android and iOS devices
    google playapple store
    Squadcast is a leader in Incident Management on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Mid-Market IT Service Management (ITSM) Tools on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Americas IT Alerting on G2 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 Users love Squadcast on G2
    Squadcast is a leader in Incident Management on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Mid-Market IT Service Management (ITSM) Tools on G2 Squadcast is a leader in Americas IT Alerting on G2
    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
    Users love Squadcast on G2
    Copyright © Squadcast Inc. 2017-2024