Blameless CommsFlow: Comms for When Bad Things Happen
Communication channels remain a cornerstone of DevOps. However, maintaining proper communications between the different stakeholders remains a challenge when attempting to remove silos between the different teams. Increasingly distributed teams and the complexities associated with deploying and managing infrastructure across cloud native environments further compound both the difficulties and the necessities of ensuring the right messages are distributed to the stakeholders who require them.
Communication challenges can also become that much more of an issue when incidents occur when the right people need to be reached with appropriate messaging. All of these communications should always be properly archived and accessible in order to learn from incidents during the post-mortem analysis process so certain errors and glitches can be avoided in the future.
“When an escalation is required to pull in more experts, timely communication is key. Beyond engineering, other business functions need to know the incident status to understand how it’s progressing,” Deirdre Mahon, vice president of marketing, Blameless, told The New Stack. “No one wants to interrupt on-call with tons of repetitive questions.”
Blameless’ new CommsFlow is designed to automatically distribute an editable communication that updates relevant teams “at the right transition step,” Mahon said. “Everyone can stay calm with the knowledge that it’s being handled by the right experts.”
Timely, Context-Rich Updates
Such communication flows can be distributed to support, sales, customer success, and, of course, management, Mahon said. “As these teams don’t sit on the incident slack channel watching each step, they may worry about the status of the incident. With CommsFlow, they can carry on with their normal tasks knowing that they’ll receive a timely, context-rich update via their preferred way — email, Slack or SMS.”
Without a centralized place to collate all information, it is a challenge to access an accurate timeline or detailed report retrospectively, Mahon said. “Teams can spend wasted hours stitching the story together from a myriad of places: Google Docs, Zoom calls, Slack channels, Jira tickets, Pagerduty escalation policies, and all related charts from monitoring or observability solutions. Without a detailed retrospective, (postmortem), there is no way to know exactly what occurred and how to improve going forward,” Mahon said. “A critical opportunity to learn is lost and the probability of going through the same journey again is high. That’s not good for engineers, customers, or the business as a whole.”
In this way, CommsFlow was designed to help alleviate the burdens the team handling the incident would face, while alleviating associated stress or unnecessary questions, Mahon said. “Customers are updated and on-call teams don’t feel burned out with additional pressure and load,” Mahon said.
Eliminates Manual Effort
Before the release of CommsFlow, the communication lift required individual thought and manual effort on the part of the engineers handling incidents. With a preconfigured playbook or agreed process steps, the lift is definitely lighter, so that with CommsFlow, teams can easily edit pre-approved communications for specific incident transition steps that can be automatically distributed based on workflow rules. “This is especially useful when communicating with external stakeholders including customers and partners,” Mahon said. “This results in faster communications that streamlines the entire workflow including resolution and retrospective reporting.”
Specific capabilities CommsFlow offers that Blameless communicated include:
- Customizable message creation, editing, and triggers for sending.
- Integrations with popular messaging and email providers.
- Automated message distribution triggered by pre-defined rules and workflows.
- Concurrently target recipients using multiple tools (Email, SMS, Slack and MS Teams).
- Centrally manage, customize and “tune” all communication rules.
- Trigger messages automatically when incident status, severity or retrospective changes.
- Send reminders automatically at custom intervals within specific periods of the incident.
- Centralize messaging logs to help tune the effectiveness of your communication strategy.
- Identify and codify your most commonly used communication flows.