PagerDuty Blog

How PagerDuty Transformed Itself to be More Agile and Lean

At PagerDuty, we are known for our industry leading uptime, availability, and reliability. This is coupled with our award winning customer service. Over the years we have invested in our infrastructure to ensure that when our customers need us most, we are at our best. We don’t talk and measure our service offering with high-availability, rather it’s all about continuous availability. We are always-on and serving requests across many distributed data centers between many service providers to maximize redundancy and cut as many single points of failure across our architecture as possible.

So far so good.

Now that we have this near bulletproof, continuously available product and platform, what about innovating for the rest of the needs of our customers? Businesses across the globe have evolved at a faster rate over the last 5 years than in years past. As everyone embraces this rapid pace of change, our goal is to stay ahead of the pace to deliver solutions that matter.

To exceed our best in class reliability offering and innovate faster, we needed to transform how we worked in Product Development.
This transformation began about a year ago with the introduction of agile. Introducing change is hard — really hard when your business is growing at near 100% YoY, you’re hiring in multiple office locations at a frenzied pace, and your customer demands continue to grow (and rightfully so!). Change has become the new norm. In Product and Engineering we have successfully brought to life the following that have contributed to our success:

  • Customer Is At The Center Of Everything We have a maniacal focus on gaining a deep understanding of the problems our customers face and creating solutions that just work. We want to continue to learn faster than ever before. We must engineer for learning.
  • Agile, Lean, Nimble Product Development  We’ve read the books, the manifesto, and figured out some secret sauce to make this work very well for us without sacrificing the needs of managing a continuously available service offering at scale.
  • You Build It, You Own It — Distributing software and operational ownership into each team is core to how we work today. We were inspired by how Spotify organized teams and adapted to what we needed to leverage ourselves in a more material manner than ever before. We’ve achieved a level of empathy and trust within ourselves that enables us to produce solutions for our customers that have them top of mind

We like to use the analogy of replacing both engines on a Boeing 747 while in flight without losing altitude and speed. Many organizations have gone through and are in process of similar transformations. Few have been able to achieve success without the turbulence that brings about anxiety and panic. We put our people at the center of it all, achieved new levels of empathy and trust, and continue to iterate and learn across all facets.

In a short time, we’ve successfully reorganized ourselves a few times over from where we first started out with the early days of agile. We’ve intentionally turned the dial to 11 for how we achieve a distributed ops way of working at enterprise scale. The results are more product capabilities that solve real problems for customers and achieved new heights for service reliability.

As we get ready for the first PagerDuty Summit, where with global leading organizations we will be discussing digital transformation, I ask that you look inward in your organization and see what policies and practices exist today that need to evolve. If you need help in making the change, I would like to personally invite you to our conference where we will hopefully ignite a spark from the content we will be delivering, that will allow you to implement real change. My team and I will be onsite to personally answer any questions about what we did to transform PagerDuty to help you with your own transformation.

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