Why You May Want an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator

Dan Holloran January 10, 2019

DevOps Monitoring & Alerting On-Call
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Managing the incident lifecycle boils down to a few simple things – detecting incidents quickly, investigating the cause(s) of an incident, rapid response, incident resolution and post-incident review. DevOps and IT teams can leverage an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator to help facilitate workflows, tooling and other operational activities throughout the entire incident management process.

An Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can help you organize and navigate incident response in the world of interconnected systems and rapid development processes. Then, once the problem’s resolved, the Incident Coordinator can help loop in applicable team members and conduct post-incident reviews – improving future incident response and remediation activities.

Let’s look a little deeper at how Incident Lifecycle Coordinators improve the overall on-call experience for DevOps and IT operations teams.

What’s an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator?

First of all, what makes someone an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator? An Incident Lifecycle Coordinator is a person who manages on-call teams and commands the workflow for incident detection, response and remediation. Furthermore, they’ll request changes be made to current workflows or ask for the involvement of additional team members when necessary – either during or after incident resolution.

The Incident Lifecycle Coordinator is quite simply a manager dedicated to shortening the incident lifecycle through the continuous improvement of on-call monitoring and alerting, incident response and team collaboration. This person will be in charge of changing process flow and on-call objectives to improve incident investigation, escalation and remediation for DevOps and IT teams.

Let’s look at the specific day-to-day roles and responsibilities of an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator to better understand how they interact with the greater team.

Incident Coordinator Roles and Responsibilities

A defined set of roles and responsibilities for an Incident Coordinator ensure their day-to-day activities line up with two goals:

  1. Allowing the team to build and maintain highly reliable applications and infrastructure

  2. Shortening the incident lifecycle and reducing mean time to acknowledge and resolve (MTTA/MTTR) incidents over time.

As an organization and team changes, the role and responsibilities may change slightly over time. But, everything the Incident Lifecycle Coordinator does needs to help achieve one of these two goals. So, let’s dive into some common responsibilities of an Incident Coordinator and see how these responsibilities help move a team’s on-call incident management processes to the next tier.

  • Centralize Incident Navigation and Limit Alert Fatigue

It helps to centralize incident information with an alerting and collaboration tool such as VictorOps, but an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can help you make the most of these tools. They can help escalate and reroute issues to the proper people and gain great exposure to the incident management process flow. With the deep exposure and systemic knowledge held by an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator, they’ll help limit redundant alerts and ensure on-call teams are only receiving alerts they need to see.

  • Manage Monitoring, Alerting and Incident Response Tooling

The Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can request changes to monitoring tools, alerting techniques and general collaboration activities. Because the coordinator is central to operations around on-call incident response, they’ll be armed with the information required to improve system observability and create efficient workflows. They can find the best ways to integrate on-call scheduling systems with alerting tools to make incident management easier.

  • Advocating for a DevOps Culture

A lot of teams looking to take on a DevOps transformation can leverage an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator to help facilitate organizational change. This person can advocate for IT operations teams that need the help of developers and can also help developers understand the benefits of handing on-call responsibilities in a DevOps environment. Because incident detection and response is such an integral part of software development in the world of CI/CD, an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can help your organization’s management team see how DevOps can benefit service reliability and speed.

  • Manage the Post-Incident Review Process

Teams can only become more efficient when they learn from their mistakes. Post-incident reviews help DevOps and IT teams learn more about their systems and how they can improve the services they maintain. An Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can bring together the right people to conduct actionable post-incident reviews to drive system improvements and better customer experiences – leading to higher reliability and performance.

  • Remediate Incidents Faster

When the going gets tough, the Incident Lifecycle Coordinator needs to be able to dive in and help with incident remediation. The Incident Lifecycle Coordinator will have valuable historical knowledge and exposure to systems in production and staging – allowing them to provide valuable incident context to on-call responders and jump in when necessary. Faster incident resolution leads to better customer experiences, less downtime and, of course, more business value.

So, let’s look at the five steps of the incident lifecycle and see exactly how the Incident Lifecycle Coordinator can shorten each step.

DevOps & The Incident Lifecycle

The 5 Steps of the Incident Lifecycle

  • Detection: How quickly can your team detect an incident?
  • Response: What’s the process for responding to an incident and getting the right on-call responder on the problem?
  • Remediation: How do you actually fix the issue? What happened and what does the team need to do in order to resolve the incident?
  • Analysis: What went well and what went poorly over the first three steps of the incident lifecycle? How can the team improve the process for incident detection, response and remediation?
  • Readiness: How can the team better prepare for the next incident? Are there any tools or workflows that can be improved to make incident management faster?

Easing the Incident Response Process

Incident response and remediation become simpler with a deep understanding of the roles and responsibilities of an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator and the five steps of the incident lifecycle. On-call scheduling, alert routing, system monitoring and team collaboration becomes more and more integrated by dedicating a single person or team to incident lifecycle coordination. Then, when it’s go-time and an incident hits, the team is prepared with the knowledge and tools they need. And if there’s anything the team needs to make the process easier, the Incident Lifecycle Coordinator is there to provide those resources.

Investigation, Escalation and On-Call That Doesn’t Suck

The Incident Lifecycle Coordinator drives improvement of incident investigation, escalation and response – reducing MTTA/MTTR and incident frequency. Through continuous improvement of on-call technology, processes and people operations, the Incident Lifecycle Coordinator shortens the incident lifecycle and helps teams maintain uptime of highly performant applications and infrastructure. Try implementing an Incident Lifecycle Coordinator to see how they could help your organization navigate on-call responsibilities and improve the lives of everyone on your team.

VictorOps centralizes on-call scheduling, monitoring and alerting data, and collaboration tools to make on-call suck less. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to realize the full power of collaborative incident response.

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