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Proactive incident management begins with continuous improvement of processes, people, and technology. DevOps and IT teams need to track key performance indicators (KPIs) over time to ensure they’re always improving. But historically, if your incident management team has been highly reactive, you may not know where to begin.
So, in this post, we’ll cover a number of important incident management KPIs that you need to be monitoring.
KPIs are great, but they’re meaningless if you don’t have benchmarks to compare them to. By measuring KPIs over time, you can pinpoint areas of your incident management process that need improvement. Once you understand where you’ve been, you can better solve for where you want to go. You can establish goals and action items to improve your KPIs over time.
Aggregate data over time results in a more accurate analysis of your system’s health and the efficiency of your team’s incident response. Establishing the proper KPIs will help you prioritize incident workflows and understand the weaknesses in your infrastructure. Once your top KPIs are established and you know which KPIs drive business success, you can focus on optimizing for those metrics.
Let’s take a look at the top incident management KPIs you should be monitoring.
Monitoring MTTA over time shows you how efficient you are at responding to an incident. How long does it take for an engineer to receive a notification and begin working on the issue? Are there any problems with routing alerts to the person who needs to acknowledge an issue?
By measuring MTTR, you can determine how well you’re responding to an incident. The difference between MTTA and MTTR will show you exactly how quickly you’re acknowledging an incident and how long it takes to actually fix the problem.
How much time is your team spending navigating an incident and routing it to the right person? On average, incident response accounts for 73% of an incident’s lifecycle. So, you can see how shortening the average time spent in the incident response phase will result in a vastly more efficient incident management process.
How often are you receiving alerts that turn into incidents? If you have a high number of incidents, why is that the case? Are the alerts unactionable and simply causing alert fatigue, or do you need to work on a solution for the actual problem, not just a patch or a quick fix? Monitoring how many incidents are coming through the pipeline is a great measurement for determining your system’s health.
Define a timeframe that would equate to successful incident remediation for your team. Then, monitor the percentage of incidents resolved in that timeframe. Setting this timeframe provides a benchmark to reach for and measure against as you work to shorten the incident lifecycle.
Now this is a big one. You need to understand how often your system experiences downtime, the costs associated with downtime, and how often this affects customers. The only way to address a problem is by acknowledging that you have one. If you don’t track your percentage of unavailability, you have no way to know how reliable your system is.
Looking at how much time individuals spend on-call, and the times of day they’re put on-call, can show you who’s bearing the brunt of on-call responsibilities. Is one person handling numerous unactionable alerts at 3 AM while another user rarely needs to respond to an incident? Try to use this data to divvy up on-call responsibilities and make on-call easier for everybody.
This is an excellent metric for tracking the reliability of your system over time. It can show whether you’re in a reactive vs. proactive incident management state. The larger the average time between incidents, the more time your team has to spend building reliability into new functionality, rather than simply responding to alerts.
The escalation rate will expose how often alerts are getting to the correct person. If incidents are escalated frequently, then you likely need to tweak your alert routing rules or re-think who’s on-call for certain issues. Escalation capability is essential for collaborative incident management teams, but you’d like alerts to reach the correct person on the first try as often as possible.
Post-incident reviews aren’t a concrete KPI. But it’s important to record all your top incident management KPIs and roll them into comprehensive post-incident reviews. PIRs should be conducted to find weaknesses in your people operations, processes, or tooling. Then, you can quantitatively measure these important KPIs against benchmarks to see that your incident management techniques continue to improve.
Without setting benchmarks and establishing key incident management metrics, you’ll have no way to tell if you’re improving. Every team has different KPIs that are more important than others when it comes to their specific application or service. But, these general incident management KPIs act as a great jumping-off point when you embark on the mission to measure success and create highly effective incident management teams.
Purpose-built incident management solutions can help you track important KPIs and build more collaborative teams. Check out our free Incident Management Buyers Guide to learn more about core functionality to look for when investing in an incident management tool.