Zendesk: Incident Analysis That’s Less Manual, More Informative

Size: 5,000+

Industry: Technology

Location: San Francisco, California

Customer Since: 2021

Manual processes at Zendesk

Back in 2019, the Zendesk team attended a workshop about learning from incidents. They took from this conference a newfound interest in analyzing their incidents and finding insights that could improve their workflows and organization. Great. The problem? The way they analyzed incidents was manual. Very manual. Before Jeli, the Zendesk Incident Managers were combing through countless slack channels, watching zoom recordings, checking logs and reports, and putting tiny pieces together into a long, extra-wordy Word doc to see the bigger picture and communicate useful insights.

“[Before Jeli] Some incident analyses used to take me 5-6 hours.”

– Dara Garvan, Engineering Manager, Incident Management

The team was glad to be analyzing incidents in some way, because they understood the importance. But the process was so time-consuming and draining for their engineers that something had to be done. When they discovered Jeli, a light bulb went on.

Jeli enters the group chat

Jeli was attractive to the team at Zendesk from day one — it was clear that this tool would save them time when doing incident analysis. It was time to say goodbye to the grueling manual process. The demos were done, contracts signed, onboarding complete. Comms went out to teams of engineers across the globe, with Jeli’s user-friendly features prompting clap emojis and excited Slack reactions. The teams got to work implementing Jeli and evolving their incident analysis processes. Here’s what happened.

Time was saved, indeed

Because Jeli proactively collects data as incidents are happening, all the information that Incident Managers need for each analysis is right in front of them. No searching, collecting, sifting, listing, or chasing people down for answers. No more manual processes.

“With Jeli I have concrete, usable data after 90 minutes or less.”

– Dara Garvan, Engineering Manager, Incident Management

Zendesk uses Jeli after a Severity 1 incident as it has proved both efficient and effective enough to get things fixed and optimized faster, and get customers back online quicker.

Jeli uncovered key gaps to be filled

Not only did Jeli make incident analysis faster and easier, but Zendesk found key takeaways that turned into actionable improvements to their processes. For example, one incident identified that many team members did not have the accesses needed to address certain problems quickly. As a result, the teams established what they call an “Access Party” — they get together and run a test incident response to see who can access what, and address any permission gaps that need to be updated so they’re prepared for the next incident. Turning their incident resilience practices into a regular party? Now that is what Jeli is all about!

“We’ve identified loads of things we need to fix, process-wise.”

– Brian FitzGerald, Senior Incident Manager

Retrospectives became more human-focused and engaging

Pre-Jeli, the retrospectives at Zendesk were strictly technical. Looking at the same functional elements and coming to the same conclusions, they were redundant, limiting, and quite frankly, a bit boring.
Jeli’s tagging, timeline, and narrative features made it so much easier to instantly identify key players in an incident, and take into account the personal factors that are crucial contributors to what happened and why.

“It’s bringing more engagement because it’s not just the technical conversation. That is the big plus.”

– Brian FitzGerald, Senior Incident Manager

Today, every retrospective at Zendesk is an interesting, well-attended affair. Jeli’s insights bring up unique perspectives, interesting questions, and undiscovered possibilities for new processes and more efficient operations. Incident Managers are noticing more positive engagement from VPs and Execs that were previously uninvolved. In fact, the more they’ve embedded Jeli into their retrospectives, people are actually looking forward to finding out what each incident has uncovered.

Lastly, Jeli has encouraged a more positive outlook towards incidents

As one can clearly imagine, that old manual process was not an enjoyable one for the Incident Managers at Zendesk. Today, with Jeli, the task of analyzing an incident is not a dreaded one. In fact, the entire attitude around incidents has changed for the better. Here at Jeli, this is the ultimate music to our ears!

“It’s made us think of incidents in a different way. Way more holistically, way more focused on a positive outcome. It made me like incidents.”

– Dara Garvan, Engineering Manger, Incident Management

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

The partnership between Zendesk and Jeli has been productive and beneficial for all. Brian and Dara and their teams use every part of Jeli to its fullest, and especially enjoy the timeline, tagging, and narrative features. They’re really looking forward to helping us continue to develop Jeli’s offerings with an expanded Knowledge Center, more reporting features and AI implementation.

Results snapshot:
  • Incident analysis time reduced by ~80%
  • No more manual processes for incident analysis
  • Increased attendance and engagement at retrospectives (Attendance has increased by approximately 25% and engagement is at an all time high. The Jeli section of their retrospectives drives great conversations and action items.)
  • Decreased burnout and dread around incident tasks. “Jeli helps us remove the ‘dread’ that we initially had when an incident needed to be analyzed. The thoughts of having to spend 5-6 hours combing through everything manually… Jeli makes this so much easier and a big bonus is that it is super user friendly.”