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A Deep-Dive Into PagerDuty’s New Incident Workflows

It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or in the Fortune 500: cost optimization, tool consolidation, and efficiency efforts are top of mind. Removing toil and automating more often during the incident response process doesn’t only help teams resolve faster, it also helps them become more efficient. In a resource-strapped world, protecting developer and responder time and focus is critical to reducing total cost of operations and optimizing customer experience.

Earlier this month, PagerDuty announced several product advancements to help customers improve team efficiency and productivity. One of the most highly anticipated announcements is the introduction of Incident Workflows to automate incident response. This feature starts rolling out to Early Access customers today.   

Think about all of the manual steps in your incident response process. High-priority incidents impacting multiple teams can be chaotic when getting all hands on deck to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Remembering to make sure X, Y, Z are done every time adds more cognitive load to an already stressful process. These repeatable, manual tasks are perfect candidates for automation. 

The more that automation can remove toil and take care of rote tasks in incident response, the faster teams can focus on problem identification and resolution. And the faster they can resolve an incident, the sooner they can get back to building new products and services. 

Incident Workflows automatically orchestrate the actions you already know you’ll need to take based on the type of incident at hand. Serving as an upgrade from Response Plays, now you can use a no-code/low-code builder to create customizable incident workflows that will reduce the manual work required to escalate, mobilize, and coordinate the right incident response for any use case. You can automatically trigger an orchestrated response using if-this-then-that logic to sequence common incident actions, such as adding a responder, subscribing stakeholders, or spinning up a conference bridge. 

Here’s a short demo that showcases how it works:

Let’s take a closer look at the functionality that makes Incident Workflows so powerful. 

Conditional Triggers

Different incident types require different remediation steps. Conditional triggers allow you to address these differentiated needs by creating logic to kick off a workflow when criteria for certain incident fields are met–like changes to urgency, priority, or status. If an incident gets upgraded from a P3 to a P1, for example, you can set up conditional triggers to kick off a specialized workflow for major incidents. And for the users who would like to double down on automation, you could even set priority using Event Orchestration and have your Incident Workflow pick up that priority change as a trigger for the major incident workflow.

Screenshot of conditional trigger feature

You can also utilize manual triggers that allow a responder to start a workflow directly from the incident details page. When a manual trigger is added, Incident Workflows can be triggered from the PagerDuty web app, mobile app, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or directly through the API.

Enhanced CollabOps Actions

Save time setting up collaboration channels by configuring your workflow to do it for you. Use workflow actions to spin up a Zoom conference bridge or create a per-incident Slack channel that includes all incident responders and incident updates. Comparable functionality for creating a MS Teams Meeting will be coming soon. As mentioned previously, you can also set up manual triggers within Slack or MS Teams if your team finds it useful. 

Screenshot Major Incident Workflow feature

Easy Communications

Communicating to internal and external stakeholders in a timely and transparent way is essential to effective incident response. As my colleague, Hannah Culver, explained, having a prepared business response plan in place can help internal cross-functional teams work better together, while also helping customer-facing teams preserve customer trust through proactive communications. Incident Workflows make this piece of the puzzle easier by allowing users to automate adding responders to the incident, subscribing stakeholders, and posting status updates, so you can keep everyone who needs to know about the incident informed in real time. 

End-to-End Automation on a Unified Platform

Incident Workflows were built to pair with other automation features on the PagerDuty platform to help teams resolve faster and minimize impact to revenue. For example, Event Orchestration can simultaneously change priority to automatically trigger an Incident Workflow, while also kicking off automated diagnostics via Automation Actions so that the script is already run by the time the right responders are called and get to the incident-specific Slack channel that the Incident Workflow has spun up. 

Conclusion

During Incident Response, responders should be free to focus on their core responsibility – resolving the incident. Incident Workflows give them the gift of being able to automate those other essential, yet tedious tasks in a standardized, repeatable way. By standardizing your incident response processes, you can ensure the right actions are taken across teams to reduce your time to incident resolution. Given that Incident Workflows are already included in Business and Digital Operations plans, it makes sense to utilize this great new functionality at no additional cost. Why piece together your tech, when you can achieve end-to-end incident response all in one place? Your management team asking about tool consolidation will certainly appreciate it. 

This is just the first step in PagerDuty’s journey towards offering more extensibility for our customers to configure responses for their unique use cases. To learn more about Incident Workflows, check out our KB article and sign up for Early Access.