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From on-call to post-mortem: How has helped Isometric run better incidents

With, Isometric has been able to build a rock-solid incident response workflow, backed by a robust on-call process.

Our conversation with Ola Sitarska, CTO of Isometric

Key Benefits

  • A single end-to-end platform to run incidents from start to finish
  • An intuitive and flexible On-call product that makes overrides seamless
  • Access to incident insights that make reporting much easier
I like that we have one system to manage our incidents end-to-end. That's really exciting for me as a manager. Especially because the On-call product integrates well with everything else you already have. This isn’t a duct-taped system, but something that feels very reliable.
Ola Sitarska
Ola Sitarska
Chief Technical Officer

Even in her earliest days as a student building games for fun, Ola Sitarska felt what it was like to be on-call—even if it was a bit informal.

“I started coding when I was in school and soon after started creating my own games. So in that sense, I was on-call for my very first job. But that experience was just not very professional, right? It was just like, if someone emailed me, I woke up and if there was an issue, I fixed it,” says Ola.

Even so, these early days primed her for what would eventually become a responsibility she really enjoyed—holding the pager.

“My favorite game is Overcooked, so that gives you an idea that I just truly enjoy the pressures of being on-call. I learned a lot from Overcooked and how everyone panics and just runs around working on the wrong things.”

At the same time, she was critical of some of the problem areas she regularly faced with this responsibility, namely false alarms. “I found them quite exhausting, unproductive and frustrating,” says Ola.

As she grew in her career, she started to experience many of the shortcomings not just with on-call, but the response process as a whole. Now, it wasn’t just false alarms, but it was the bureaucracy of learning from incidents, communication and so much more.

The best teacher? Experience

In her early days of being on-call, Ola dealt with an incident that truly emphasized the importance of having not only good on-call systems, but good response processes to support them. A month into a new role, she and her team got word that a system that was responsible for deleting sensitive customer data was not working as intended.

For her, this incident stood because of how long it ran and how difficult it was to keep communications streamlined across the entire company.

“I was very new to that team and to their tech, so I couldn't really get hands-on and fix anything. So, for me, communication was the biggest challenge. That incident is still pretty visceral in my memory because it was just a whole day—12 hours—and then you go to sleep and the next day you continue working at it.”

With from the very beginning

Now as the Chief Technology Officer at Isometric, Ola and her team made the decision to become customers of even before their product was launched.

Onboarding early allowed them to set up the tool exactly how they needed and get comfortable before going to GA. “We onboarded about three months before we launched our product...” says Ola.

Early on, however, one thing was notably absent: an on-call solution that really allowed them to bundle their incident response into a single platform. Thankfully, they would soon not only get an on-call product, they’d have an opportunity to be a design partner along the way.

Looking past the status quo

Given how important on-call is for Ola and her team, they needed a solution that was able to keep pace with their evolving needs. Unfortunately, what they saw on the market was just not up to par.

What I've seen from others in this space is that those products just never change, evolve, or get better.

For Ola, this is at odds with the fact that on-call practices are rapidly evolving. The way teams manage their on-call teams today won’t necessarily work tomorrow. So having a tool that accommodates these changing tides is very important.

“Obviously on-call is a changing practice. I think we're all learning how to do on-call better and how to make it more humane and better for people involved in it. So I was really excited to see someone innovate in this area.”

So when the Product team at approached Ola about being a design partner for On-call, she quickly jumped on board.

Incident management from start to finish

With On-call in the fold, has now become a true end-to-end incident response platform for Ola and her team at Isometric.

Now, they can avoid an issue that affects so many organizations: the need to jump around disparate tools that don’t communicate with one another. Now they have everything they need to manage incidents in a single platform, from alert to post-mortem.

“I like that we have one system to manage our incidents end-to-end. That's really exciting for me as a manager. Especially because the On-call product integrates well with everything else you already have. This isn’t a duct-taped system, but something that feels very reliable.”

Making on-call shift overrides easy

When building On-call, we were focused on not only creating a better user experience, but an improved human one as well. That’s why we made overrides simple, intuitive and frictionless—something Ola and her team have noticed right away.

“I'm really excited about being able to cut back on the number of Slack DMs where people are asking for overrides and hoping that someone answers. Because often what happens is that people will send a message and hope someone responds. Then if that doesn't happen, they may come to me and be like, ‘Hey, can you help me find someone?’” says Ola.

“But then even if you agree, it’s still a matter of who's going to take that override and log it into the system. And so, making that as easy as a Slack message but a lot more effective is very exciting for them.”

The details matter, too

But it’s not only the big features that have caught Ola’s attention, it’s the small quality-of-life ones, too. For example, Insights have made it easier for her to gather data points around how incident response has been going from a numbers perspective.

"My monthly reporting has become really easy now," says Ola.

All of the features just make us feel like we're going to be able to have a much better experience both tracking our incidents and getting more information in the right places. This way, we can incorporate them into our learning and maybe minimize some of the effort required to learn from incidents as well.

About Isometric

Isometric is a new kind of carbon credit certifier that issues the highest quality carbon credits in the world, backed by science. Isometric provides a permanent audit trail for all credits issued allowing the underlying information behind every credit to be reviewed and scrutinized by experts, in order to build trust.

About the interviewee

Ola Sitarska is the Chief Technology Officer at Isometric. Previously Ola led infrastructure engineering teams at Shopify, served as VP of Engineering at Pollen, and led API/SDK teams as a Director of Engineering at Onfido. With a passion for furthering diversity in the technology field, Ola founded Django Girls, a global non-profit focused on technology education with events attended by 30.000 women worldwide. She is a Python Fellow and served on the board of directors for Django Software Foundation.

Ola Sitarska

Ola Sitarska

Chief Technical Officer

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