It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Well, unless you’re dealing with a major IT outage that is.
For many IT teams, the joy and jubilation of the holidays are often overshadowed by the ever-present threat of a catastrophic outage. And, with supply chain issues already pushing businesses into crisis mode—particularly in the retail sector—there is no room for downtime.
So, what can IT teams do to minimise incidents and maximise fun over the holidays? Here are our top five tips for a stress-free festive break:
1. Change a little, not a lot
It’s key to plan and make minimal changes to your environment over the holiday season. Mandating change freezes from the start of December is a good practice to instil across your whole organisation.
2. Amplify your coverage
Ensure you have appropriate coverage across ALL teams and functions. Formalise an on-call list for all teams so everyone involved is clear that they may need to be available to help resolve any issues. Review any potential capacity constraints you may have over the new year period too. Central Network Operations Centers or incident teams should always have an up to date list of contact names and numbers for each respective team.
3. Check-in with your partners
Speak to your external suppliers about their holiday plans. Ask if there are any planned changes to their services over the festive period that may have an impact on your services. Know who your key contacts are and how to reach them if you need to.
4. Check-in with your business stakeholders
Brief your business stakeholders on your plan and coverage for the holidays, find out if there will be any changes to their working patterns during this time and when they will need access to critical applications. Make sure they have the out of hours contacts for your team.
5. Encourage early escalation
Ask your team to bubble issues up quickly throughout the festive season. Explain that sitting on a problem—especially during the holidays—is not an option. Getting the right people looking at a problem early may cause a couple of hours of disruption vs. weeks of disruption if ignored.
And there’s more…just because you have read this far, here are some bonus tips just for you.
Want to pave the way for an outage-free, happy holiday season? Tackle these important questions NOW:
Don’t be caught out by a 3-day new year
- The new year break can create a three day weekend for some countries. Will this have an impact on how your systems process data? Some systems may run a batch process on the first business day of the week (usually a Monday) that will cover all the transactions that have taken place over that weekend. This year, Monday is a holiday, so the batch process will not take place until Tuesday. Could this cause potential capacity challenges for transactions (i.e 4 days worth instead of 3)?
Get ahead of holiday spikes
- COVID-19 has changed purchasing patterns dramatically from brick and mortar to online and from cash to card. Are your systems ready to handle retail purchasing spikes on special sales days like Christmas day or Boxing day?
- Is your business planning a special holiday marketing campaign? Are your systems ready to handle the surge in logins and hopefully the surge in sales?
A clear mind leads to clear decision-making
- This is a delicate subject but a critical one to cover with your team. Remind everyone that consuming anything that will impair judgement when on call is a no-no. Be clear about the potential impact. Explain that dealing with a serious incident is challenging enough at the best of times, without adding alcohol into the mix. Best case scenario nothing will go wrong, worst-case scenario, well that doesn’t bear thinking about…
Ready for anything?
- Are there special events over the holiday period that may stress your systems? Putting the kettle on after the Queen’s speech, Hogmanay, Boxing day sales surges or New Year’s day football…. These happen every year…. but is anything different this year? Are your systems ready….?
Prepare to perform
Remember, outages are avoidable. According to Logic Monitor’s IT Outage Impact study 2019-2020, 96% of the global IT decision-makers who have experienced at least one outage in the past three years believe more than half (51%) could have been prevented. And, with network failure, usage spikes/surges and human error cited as key contributing factors—it’s clear preparation is key to prevention.
Want to prevent future outages and costly downtime? Ready to take a proactive approach to monitoring your environment? Start by putting AIOps and Observability on your Christmas wish list!