The term “operationally mature” characterizes companies that understand how incident management affects both employee well-being and business impacts. Operationally mature companies have a process in place with built-in reliability and accountability that limits high-severity incidents because of bugs. The more mature a company’s operations, the better it can maintain agility and adapt to change. So how should operationally mature organizations handle incident management? Are ticketing systems still the gold standard?
Ticketing systems keep track of issues, assign items to other people and order requests. They are a great way to manage a queue of ongoing requests, yet many operationally mature companies shy away from ticketing systems for their real-time incident management.
Likely, it’s because ticketing systems can be fraught with issues. A clunky workflow, mired in process, means that users can’t always move and adapt quickly. Every minute they spend updating their workflow in the ticketing system equates to less time for dealing with critical issues. Ticketing systems often require a rigorous, structured, manual approach that can slow down work in the heat of the moment.
Leading DevOps companies are proving that you don’t need a process-heavy system to get work done. In fact, for real-time incident management, the less process, the better. Companies are migrating from a system where a user manually opens a ticket when they see an outage, to monitoring systems that automatically generate alerts as problems arise. As soon as something goes wrong, the system generates an alert. There is no delay waiting for someone to notice the issue and fill out a form. Teams get immediate visibility into what’s going on with the system and can begin work or escalate accordingly.
Operationally mature companies really need a lighter-weight solution. They need a solution that focuses on automation, allows them to be more agile and fixes incidents faster. The decision is not an either/or proposition, however.
Many companies still have a place for ticketing systems, even if they aren’t for real-time incident management. Organizations can combine ticketing systems with more agile solutions. A more lightweight system still allows users to open manual alerts if necessary, much like a ticketing system does. Some operationally mature companies use a ticketing system to track incident follow-up and generate work estimates for lower priority tasks. Once the critical incident is resolved and service is restored, companies can create tickets to fix the root causes and make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.
Ticketing systems are not necessarily outdated or obsolete. Unfortunately, one of the benefits of a ticket system is also a weakness. The plethora of fields, for example, allows users to track various aspects of an issue, but those fields are cumbersome and unnecessary for high-priority items. Ticketing systems can be clunky when DevOps needs something sleek. Combining ticketing with a lightweight, automated, incident management system is a sure-fire way to streamline some of the extra processes.
Smart companies ask, “How much process is necessary to accomplish our tasks?” Answer that question, and your IT team will thank you. The answer will help them feel less like a help desk and more like an integral member of the DevOps team. And that helps your organization move faster and get closer to achieving DevOps Nirvana.