You’ve decided to join 100+ operational leaders at companies like Airbnb, Stripe, Oscar Health, Square, and made the decision to use alerts to manage business operations. Great!
Before you can get started, you need to have a few things in place.
As the famous saying goes, “garbage in, garbage out”. To make your data operational, you want to ensure that is
Your data is only as good as your goals, so make sure you’re managing to the right metrics. Business users, product managers and engineering might all need to be kept in the loop. Create a staffing plan for who will monitor and respond to the alerts. You’ll also need a way to maintain the system over time and flexibly update it as your business grows.
Once you have your input data in one place and goals defined, be wary of siloing logic by writing your marketing rules in Marketo and sales rules in Salesforce. Use an application-agnostic tool to manage rules to make sure your rules can run in coordination (no customer wants to receive five emails in one day), are auditable and can be optimized in total.
Don’t let the seams in your company and tools become the seams in your customer’s experience!
Once you have the prep work in place to start alerting, you’re ready to start deciding what to monitor.
Alerts should be real, urgent and actionable. Here’s a quick diagnostic to know if you should modify your alerts.
Good alerts are created when needed, have clear content and are managed well.
You now know how to craft an alert, but knowing what not to alert on is just as important to a good alerting strategy. The two other big misuses of alerts we see are for 1) informational reporting, and 2) timely but not urgent task creation.
Maybe you want to know your GMV or the number of users that signed up every day. For informational reports, you want to create and send schedule reports to a predetermined (likely non-rotating) audience.
You might need to create tasks for which you need a timely resolution, but they are not urgent or do not indicate a broken process. For example, customer support requests and account onboardings may have a 1–2 day SLA. Here, you’ll want to create tickets and assign them to your operations specialists.
Once we've set up a good system, we want to make sure it will continue to serve future business needs with little maintenance, so there are a few things to keep in mind.
A common failure mode is alert fatigue. Review the total number of pages per week to ensure the work is manageable. If you have multiple alerting systems, consider consolidating them so you can truly understand their impact.
Track accountability of alerts over time:
Architect the system to tell you if its not able to find data or trigger alerts (since it might be indistinguishable from the case where there are no alerts)
Treat monitoring as code:
Good operational alerting can transform business processes. Let us know what you do to keep your company running smoothly!