Put simply, managing incidents—big or small—is good for business. Not only is it a regulatory requirement, but also a factor in your profits. Your customers expect smooth operations, good customer service and protection. A dedicated incident management tool can help protect all of these.
While many may think of incidents as an IT or DevOps issue, it’s hard to over emphasize that they can happen in any department. Problems with checkout, scheduling errors or product defects are just as risky as malware attacks or data leaks. Each issue can impact your customer’s experience and, therefore, your bottom line and reputation.
But as technology advances, products have become more complex and incident-prone. Additionally, businesses are using an ever-increasing number of software platforms and tools to improve things like workflows and communication. As a result, response and recovery times can be even longer and more complicated than ever before, especially when these tools don’t integrate with one another.
The clearest solution? A dedicated incident management tool.
Rather than manage data and run response and recovery manually or across multiple platforms, you can integrate it into one tool. The best incident response solutions allow you to customize your data points, automate your response playbook and communicate within and across teams, all in one place.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best incident response tools on the market today and explain why each might be a good fit for you.
Incident response tools come in a few formats. They may focus on system performance, security automation, threat detection and diagnosis, or on-call responses.
The overall goal of these tools is to identify and resolve incidents faster so you’re up and running as fast as possible. The key to successful incident management is organized, simplified responses and team communication—the hallmark benefits of incident response tools.
Below are the main actions that an incident response tool can take to support your business.
Monitoring your systems for engineering failures or security threats is central to incident management. Many teams use a single software just to let you know something is wrong. It’s a constant task and generates alerts in droves, with a high potential for alert fatigue.
With the right automation, you can set your tools to identify, triage and escalate alerts so you’re not overwhelmed with issues of lesser severity levels. The problem is that these tools don’t necessarily fix the issue. They just tell you there is one.
That’s where an incident response tool comes in. You can integrate the alerts and set your tolerance and rules. For example, you might set your triggers so that a critical issue automatically launches an end-to-end incident response and loops in the right people at the right time. The result is organized action and recovery rather than silos of information and repetitive admin tasks.
Most organizations use dozens of products to manage security, threats and incidents. You might track threats with PagerDuty, talk to your team in Slack and write reports in Google Docs, for example.
While it may work as a bootstrap solution, it’s a manual and inefficient process. You run the risk of multiple people working separately on the same thing, leading to duplication, poor communication and wasted time.
An incident response tool can help you take all of that information and combine it into one location. A tool like incident.io that integrates your stack into a native platform means you don’t have to switch between programs or fumble around with configuration.
Instead, you can log, escalate and declare incidents in one place. Then, you can run the entire coordinated recovery with the right people, even when your team is remote. Plus, incident.io integrates into Slack so you can work on your incident without losing context.
Your incident playbook was designed to standardize and simplify response procedures for your team. However, incident response tools can take that one step further using automated workflows. You can customize the data you collect and set triggers that automatically generate the next best step to take.
Some software like incident.io use automation templates you can customize to align with your playbook, incident severity, products or other actions—so when X occurs, Y automatically happens. For example, in incident.io, you can set a trigger that sends an email to relevant team members once someone declares an incident. You can also have it automatically escalate a critical alert using PagerDuty.
Automation helps refine your process and removes extra manual steps. Technology starts to work in your favor again and your team automatically knows what to do next. This will also give them the confidence to make decisions and fix problems faster.
Insights help you build better responses and become more efficient. The key to learning from what went wrong is to mine your data for trends and adjust accordingly. But that's easier said than done.
With the right incident response tool, you can choose your data points and assign rules, products and severities. This allows you to quickly gain visibility into your operations.
After an incident, you can use those insights to write your post-incident review and publish a summary. Teams and remote departments can catch up on recent events, resolutions and new changes.
There are dozens of incident response tools to choose from, whether for monitoring, ticketing, or on-call. Each has different capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and is designed with specific pain points in mind. Here are the five best tools of 2023.
Built on Slack, Rootly runs incident response end-to-end, using automated workflows. It’s highly configurable and allows you to create a workflow according to your existing process. Rootly is a good option if you have a refined process that works but want to automate or take it up a notch.
Rootly integrates with most tools you’re already using, like Slack, PagerDuty, Zoom and Google Docs, allowing you to escalate and communicate quickly. Assign roles, page on-call staff or key execs directly from PagerDuty and simplify your post-incident review.
While the ability to configure is a major plus, it’s also a drawback, potentially leading to longer adoption times due to its complexity. Choose a tool with simplified yet customisable automation if you need to scale at speed.
FireHydrant is another end-to-end incident response tool. You can run it in Slack or Microsoft Teams. It’s also highly customisable and allows you to automate a specific service.
You can catalog each service you use, link it to a team or product and build a specific process for each one. The result is real-time information about incidents that are instantly assigned to the right team with defined automation. It’s designed to be user-friendly, including non-IT departments, though it’s targeted at engineering.
If you want detailed information about how each service handles an incident or need custom responses for different services, FireHydrant may be helpful for you. However, it does take configuration, which means adoption is slower. If you don't need to program super-specific processes, look for a simpler tool.
Like Rootly and FireHydrant, incident.io lives in Slack, where you can run end-to-end incidents. However, unlike these two tools, incident.io automation templates align with modern best practices while being simple to use. You can build your workflow and customize your process, but there’s no coding involved. As a result, your setup will be much faster.
incident.io also integrates with many popular tools such as PagerDuty, Google Docs, Zoom and GitHub. Its PagerDuty integration is more advanced than Rootly’s, so you can alert on-call and key execs directly about critical issues.
You can also collect data based on the points you care about. For instance, you might want to compare data from different incidents, which you can easily review in incident.io's analytics database. Then, you can condense those insights into an incident debrief post in Slack. Anyone who needs a quick summary can quickly get up to speed.
Whereas Rootly, FireHydrant and incident.io are incident management platforms, Datadog is primarily a monitoring tool. With this platform, you can gain visibility of your entire stack and run continuous detection, diagnosis and triage of bugs and issues.
You can build custom automation for monitoring, logging and escalating alerts across applications, networks and infrastructure.
Whilst Datadog was originally a monitoring tool, they now also have incident management capabilities too. As you’d expect, the integration with monitoring is excellent, but the overall incident response flow is heavily engineering-focused, and can leave non-engineers feeling out of the loop and unsure how to contribute.
As the name suggests, Pagerduty is designed to improve the on-call incident management process. It integrates with your monitoring tools, automatically applies on-call schedule rules and assigns the incident to the right team. Like FireHydrant, it integrates with Slack and Microsoft Teams so you can stay organized wherever you work.
With Pagerduty, you can automate escalation, response action and post-incident reviews. The platform also uses machine learning to help you improve your response and recovery process. You can configure it to your needs and build a custom process, but the interface isn’t as user-friendly as others.
An efficient incident management process identifies and solves an urgent problem with little downtime. As systems and products get more complex, transparent and automatic processes can not just save you and your team headaches, but also improve your business as a whole.
Incident response tools like incident.io can help your teams solve problems more effectively and shave hours off your response time. With a native Slack interface, you can collaboratively build workflows, escalate alerts to the right teams and quickly resolve incidents.
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