Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve repeatedly tried to heat your meals in a microwave and the food was cold as a cucumber, even after the microwave’s done heating? What if your oven knew just the right temperature you prefer your smoked sandwich at, and prompted you to open the door only when your sandwich is ready or it's about to catch fire?

That’s exactly how the Alerts you set for your business should be working for you and your teams. When the systems you have in place to monitor your ops alert you either too much, too little, or too late — you’ve got a problem!

This article is all about helping you deal with this. Read on to learn more about actionable alerting.

What are actionable Alerts?

Actionable Alerts are automated, customized alerts notifying your teams about critical changes, updates, and disruptions, across their customers and systems, when they need to know about them and how they want to be notified.

Unlike Digital Operations, where most disruptions are often fixed by writing or updating an existing piece of code - when your operations involve a large fleet of vehicles, suppliers, subcontractors, and ground staff, a disruption could come from any point in your network.

And responding to them, in most cases involves paging people and actually moving things on the ground.

Monitoring your operations in real time is a great way to ensure your teams are proactively responding to mission-critical customer issues. However, when not done rightly, alerts can place an unnecessary burden on Ops teams instead of helping them resolve issues.

The main problem is:

  1. Most alerts are not actionable enough.
  2. They direct you to issues that DO NOT require a response
  3. They lack critical information forcing you to spend more time searching for insights in order to determine an incident’s urgency.

What makes an Alert actionable?

  • An alert needs to be routed to the right person and escalated when not solved in-time
  • There needs to be a way to track what happened after the alert was triggered
  • There should be a way for your teams to identify and plan the actions needed to resolve an incident.

Excess of such non-actionable alerts creates “Alert Fatigue”, resulting in wasted time and resources and interfering with real issues at hand.

This could be already happening to you and here’s a step-by-step framework you can prevent this.

Why Alerting can be more complicated than you think it is!

Nobody ever said that alerting was simple. How can we ensure that alerts are delivered in a timely manner while minimizing false positives and negatives? Further, how do we ensure that we detect issues on time and do not wake your responders in the middle of the night with false alarms?

Ops teams can find alerting to be an inherently difficult practice due to structural and competing forces, like:

  • Overly sensitive systems that frequently trigger false positives
  • Noisy alerting systems result in ops managers either ignoring alerts or missing real issues that actually need their attention
  • Poor Maintenance practices where systems scale and evolve quickly lead to an alerting strategy that is simultaneously filled with outdated policies and gaps where ops teams aren’t providing coverage to newer changes in their systems.
  • Fragmented Data Sources that lead to information needed to diagnose and troubleshoot a problem being spread across multiple tools.

A three-step framework for getting your alerting strategy right!

1) Using Titles that Help

Complicated titles force responders to dig unnecessarily through the contents of the alerts for more info.

Frustration among your ops teams can build up when different alerts share similar titles causing confusion and wasting precious time in mission-critical situations.

Example:

Alert 1: Bike utilization 41% followed by, Alert 2: Bike utilization 56%

Are these alerts referring to the same Service Area? Is a 56% utilization critical? Is there an imminent surge in demand?

The alerts you set up should help your teams with answers rather than adding more questions.

2) Ensure your Alerts aren’t missing critical details

Operational alerts can often be cryptic and force the teams responsible to spend a lot of cycles understanding the meaning of an Alert and searching for more information in order to gain any insights.

With supporting information scattered across email threads, Dashboards, Excel Reports, and your Data Warehouse, responding teams end up spending a significant chunk of their valuable time on searches and queries instead of solving the issue at hand.

Bundling relevant supporting information along with clearly defined titles can help reduce chaos and confusion among ops teams during critical incidents.

Example:

When addressing a stock-out alert, the same set of tasks is performed.

This includes reordering/rebalancing existing stock from nearby stores and analyzing trends on consumption graphs.

Your Ops teams will be performing these same steps over and over the next time, a similar incident occurs.

3) Adopting an Alert routing strategy.

In businesses obsessed with customer experiences, everyone receives all the alerts. This can be commonly seen when teams are small and everyone is involved in everything.

However, as your operations scale and people begin to specialize, the alert-me-on-everything approach can quickly slow your teams down.

Example:

Sending alerts regarding connection issues with your 3PL provider to your DBA team won't help resolve the incident alert and will probably be ignored.

Trigger alerts only to people who are relevant to that alert. This is easier said than done as alerts can be triggered by several components in your system.

Setting up highly specific alerts for each source or switching to a platform with auto-routing capabilities can provide the required granularity to make informed routing decisions.

Conclusion

We live in a world where ops teams are either constantly firefighting or shoulder-tapping data and engineering teams for updated reports and dashboards. Locale’s control tower equips you and your teams with real-time observability.

With real-time incident reporting, lightning-fast RCAs, and Dynamic Playbooks that are tailored to your industry, Locale is here to simplify your operations like never before.

Still in doubt? let us clear them once and for all — Book a call with one of our specialists to have all your questions answered today!