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VTS, Inc. operates a commercial real estate leasing and asset management platform that enables owners and brokers to streamline their workflows and lease space. Its platform also enables owners and brokers to manage deal activity, identify trends, and quantify portfolio performance. The company is headquartered in New York City with over 200 employees — 40 of those individuals being part of the engineering team. Senior Software Engineer, Christopher Brady, along with the rest of the engineering team, were tasked with finding a solution that could manage their incident management lifecycle to help put a process in place and avoid the challenges they had with their previous alerting tool.
Addressing incident management challenges by replacing previous alerting tool
In the early stages of the company, there wasn’t an incident management process in place. VTS started using an alerting tool, but faced challenges around the tool’s feature set, user experience, and overall interface. As their business expanded, it was a critical imperative to ensure they could support clients in different timezones. If an issue arose, they wanted to be able to triage and address it without simultaneously waking up 40 engineers to troubleshoot the same issue. “When an incident occurs in the middle of the night we need someone to get on it, and fast,” said Brady. The company needed a platform that centralized their tools, processes, and people, and could handle incidents coming from their main application. It was time for the company to move off of their current alerting tool onto an end-to-end incident management platform that supported true, continuous digital delivery.
Providing a greater percentage of uptime for clients
“When you think about incident management, PagerDuty is the first solution that comes to mind,” said Brady. VTS now uses PagerDuty as their incident management platform to help with alert aggregation across their service architecture, scheduling, escalations, real-time collaboration, and reporting and analytics. “We felt our previous alerting tool didn’t provide the functionality that PagerDuty does, so we needed to switch,” said Brady. VTS found the feature set that PagerDuty provides along with the user experience and interface to be far more intuitive and valuable than what their previous tool offered. Moreover, being able to customize alert behavior were additional reasons they made the move. PagerDuty centralizes all event data and guarantees delivery, consolidating all relevant context into incidents that represent real, service-impacting problems. This creates accountability across the team in ensuring the VTS site is available and minimizes impacts to the business.
The engineering team uses escalation policies by leveraging a process that involves multiple lines of defense, ensuring nothing ever gets missed. If there’s no response from the primary contact after five minutes, the incident is escalated to the next person in the on-call rotation. If the secondary contact doesn’t respond within five minutes, every single on-call engineer is notified to take immediate action. The company also relies on PagerDuty’s bi-directional Slack extension to further enhance their workflow as responders can take action on incidents with Slack with user-friendly message buttons, collaborate in real-time for faster resolution, and leverage cross-platform user association that syncs user actions, permissions, and analytics.
“We have an agreement with our clients in which we must ensure a certain percentage of uptime is being provided to them so that we are upholding our contractual obligations,” said Brady. Being able to analyze mean-time-to-acknowledge (MTTA) and mean-time-to-resolve (MTTR) to measure operational efficiency through a single pane of glass is important for VTS, to meet their SLA’s. PagerDuty has enabled VTS to tangibly measure that their average MTTA is 5 minutes and MTTR is 33 minutes, which has gone down significantly since implementing PagerDuty and which is a great outcome for the company–they’ve surpassed the industry average by over 4x.
Resolving incidents faster, meeting uptime expectations, and ensuring client satisfaction
VTS is able to effectively manage their digital delivery chain and operations for an improved customer experience by resolving incidents faster, as a result of partnering with PagerDuty. “PagerDuty helps keep our site running by notifying us when an incident arises. The solution also ensures that we receive a greater percentage of uptime, which in turn keeps our clients happy,” stated Brady. Implementing PagerDuty has had powerful positive impacts to VTS’s business, directly contributing to more satisfied clients and a stronger bottom line.
“PagerDuty helps keep our site running by notifying us when an incident arises. The solution also ensures that we enjoy a greater percentage of uptime, which in turn keeps our clients happy”