Incident management tools are often built for engineers to solve technical issues. On the surface, thinking of incident management as an engineering problem makes sense, and it’s an approach that’s widely used by many organizations from small startups to large enterprises. When there's a problem like a checkout page failure or a server crash, it’s natural for engineers to spring into action, declaring and resolving these incidents.
But while incidents commonly involve technical teams, many other teams and individuals need to participate to effectively manage incidents, from Customer Support to Risk and Compliance. Looking at incident management as a technical problem doesn't always consider how useful these tools could be for non-engineering departments and for handling situations beyond just technical incidents.
The problem is that, outside of engineering teams, people across organizations aren’t accustomed to using the word “incident.” For them, an incident is technical jargon best left to developers or SREs.
And within engineering teams, the default approach is for incident management tools to be used for that—responding to incidents. They’re treated as a “break in case of emergency” lever. But the reality is that these same organizations have many more use cases for an incident management solution than they realize.
Does anyone outside of engineering deal with incidents? Absolutely, they just don’t call them that
Let’s use a hypothetical situation to illustrate the point here. First, imagine you have a former employee who’s breached their contract and has threatened to disclose confidential information that will jeopardize the future of your business.
Is this a big deal? Absolutely. Potential information breaches keep people up at night.
Think about how you might react in this situation. You would need to respond to the breach with the level of severity that it deserves—this is a critical situation that requires an all-hand-on-deck approach. You would then coordinate and rally everyone who needs to be involved, each with a specific role to play.
These use cases underscore one crucial fact: if you need a space to collaborate on issues, genuine or planned, incident or otherwise, an incident management solution like incident.io just makes sense.
Once the fire is out, you might even come together to figure out how to avoid situations like these in the future. Data breaches are a PR nightmare, so you’d want to make sure you’re putting as many resources as possible towards avoiding them entirely. Let’s call these…follow-up actions.
Now, take a typical “technical” incident declaration and response process.
An engineer finds an issue causing a website outage. In this case, they would declare an incident using their tool of choice, and teams would then coordinate to resolve the incident and communicate throughout the process. They would then come together for an incident debrief or post-mortem meeting to figure out how they can avoid incidents like these in the future.
The first scenario is starting to sound a lot like an incident, isn’t it?
Incident management tools are useful for non-incidents, too
But what about more technical situations that aren’t real-life incidents?
Take our recent migration into Google Cloud as an example. By using incident.io, we made what would typically be a really difficult and stressful task that much simpler. We were able to coordinate seamlessly, assign and track action items, and give regular updates to keep everyone in the loop–all with only minutes of downtime.
In the end, the migration went well, and using incident.io played a significant role in that. But had things gone wrong, we’d have been primed with all of the context of the migration and ready to tackle things at speed.
And it isn't just us. Our customers also use us for “planned incidents.” These range from product launches, routine maintenance, and even load testing.
These use cases underscore one crucial fact: if you need a space to collaborate on issues, genuine or planned, incident or otherwise, an incident management solution like incident.io just makes sense. Are you managing a complex operational task where you want to keep track of timelines, actions, and follow-ups? An incident management tool can help you.
Take this anecdote from Principal Engineer of Skyscanner, John Paris, about the effectiveness of incident.io beyond engineering incidents:
One of the unexpected benefits of switching over to incident.io is that we’ve managed to get different groups within our organization to manage incidents. For example, teams that look after our data platform, employee enablement folks that manage our laptops and other equipment our company uses. These are teams that needed a platform to help them manage incidents. Now they’re empowered to set up incident channels and feel more confident knowing that there’s automation to help guide them the entire way.
None of this means anything if the product is difficult to use
One of the key philosophies we hold at incident.io is that everyone should feel empowered to declare an incident.
That's exactly why we designed a product that allows for exactly that. Our tool is simple to use, straightforward to navigate, and adoption is seamless throughout your entire company.
In the end, we want companies to fundamentally reimagine the way they think about incident management tools like incident.io. They’re much more than just something for engineers to worry about. And they can have legitimate use cases outside of core incident response.
The reality is you’re already dealing with situations every single day that would benefit from process improvement. When you democratize the use of incident management across your organization, you’ll save time, be more efficient, and ultimately protect your customers better.
Incidents are for everyone: our guide to help you evangelize incident management across your organization
We’d be the first to admit that getting this buy-in may prove tricky at first. This is exactly why we’re creating a guide to help you have these conversations with folks across your organization. You'll be able to use this guide as a resource to help other teams better understand the use cases of incident.io beyond just responding to incidents—and beyond engineering teams.
Remember, incidents don’t have to only be app outages or website glitches. Incident management solutions don’t need to be relegated to just a response tool. And incidents don’t just have to be an “engineering thing.”
Incidents can be for everyone!