Introducing UI improvements to the on-call schedules and rotations feature on Squadcast.
It shouldn’t take you more time than a few seconds to understand your on-call schedule and rotations and how you could make changes to it. It is important for on-call scheduling and alerting tools to make this as simple as possible. If you’re spending more than a few seconds to understand what your on-call rotations are going to be like for the next day or week or month, then you need to start looking for a better on-call management tool.
An on-call schedule helps you ensure that the right person is notified when an incident hits, irrespective of the time, day or night. This is done so by adding users on different rotations or shifts which also maintains a healthy balance between being on-call and regular work. When one or more engineers are on call for a service, they are expected to be the first person(s) to respond to issues and alerts from the service that need to be actioned on a timely basis. Needless to say, a lot of people dread being on-call. Reasons for this include - an uneasy expectation of the phone ringing at odd hours, dealing with a lot of unknowns and the lack of visibility of the on-call schedules. While bad on-call practices are a cultural problem that can be fixed with time, you can start to do a lot of good by just ensuring that there is clear visibility of who goes on-call and transparent processes to exchange shifts, etc.
In a function where you’re often anxious about something going down, one source of comfort is having access and visibility into things that you can know - like your on-call schedules. Google calendar does a fantastic job of just showing how your day is going to pan out with the timeline of activities scheduled. It doesn’t take longer than a few seconds to go over the schedule. Understanding your on-call schedule can and should be this intuitive.
Inspired by Google Calendar, we recently released a fresh new UI for our on-call schedules feature to make it more comfortable and simple to know exactly who is on-call today, next week, next month or literally whenever. You can also see who else is on the shift with you and who will take it on after you. Most importantly, tasks, like interchanging shifts, and managing time off, are super intuitive and easy.
You can configure a new schedule in under a minute with the following attributes:
You can choose to create as many on-call schedules to support your current team and system structures much like before. What’s new is, you can customize it down to the color that you want the schedule to reflect on the calendar.
One best practice to keep in mind while creating a schedule is to understand that it’s better to create a recurring schedule as opposed to constantly changing it. This ensures that people on your team can predict their on-call shifts and plan their regular work and life accordingly. It’s a huge step towards fixing your on-call culture when your on-call shift is predictable and doesn’t come as a shock to you.
You can choose to add a single person (user/ admin/ account holder), multiple people, or teams (squads) to an on-call rotation.
One or more on-call rotations make an on-call schedule. Rotations help you create shifts that allow for customizing hand-off times for each shift. It is super important to understand your current on-call culture and ensure that a healthy amount of time is allocated towards on-call and regular work. This balance is created by optimizing shift lengths for every schedule. Companies that focus on this aspect are sure to have happier employees and customers. Invariably, with short and sensible on-call shifts, evenly distributed among the team there's more focus on keeping your product or service reliable, which becomes a shared goal.
If your on-call teams are geographically divided, you’ll need to take that into consideration while creating an on-call schedule for these teams. In the new on-call schedules feature in Squadcast, the selected timezone will default to the local machine timezone - so when someone from your Australia team is looking at the ‘Backend Schedule’ created by you, sitting out of California, they’ll be able to view the schedule in their local timezone without having to deal with the hassle of figuring out the time difference.
Schedule ‘Save the world’ viewed in California, USA (PST):
Schedule ‘Save the world’ viewed in Sydney, Australia (AEST):
You can check out our support guide to walk you through the steps in detail to create on-call schedules for your organization.
Have an idea to make schedules and rotations even simpler? We’d love to hear from you: Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll hear back from us soon! :)