Dealing with a high MTTR in your network?

Auvik Network Management is a comprehensive network monitoring and troubleshooting solution. With over 50 pre-configured alerts, it keeps you informed about critical network events. Users have the flexibility to customize these alerts and control notification frequency so that they have all the essential context to be able to fix issues. 

While monitoring is essential for detecting problems, DevOps teams need a solid strategy for next steps to ensure the right team members are notified, have all the tools to react, and can resolve the issue as soon as possible. And that’s when the ilert incident management platform comes in handy.

visual of MTTR with arrow showing decrease

In this article, we will talk about the meaning of MTTR in IT operations and dive deeper into best practices of incident management with the help of the ilert platform.

MTTR Meaning

What is MTTR?

Short for Mean Time to Resolution or Mean Time to Repair, MTTR is a crucial metric in IT operations that measures the average time to resolve incidents or outages. It provides insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of incident management processes.

Calculating MTTR involves tracking the time from the moment an issue is reported until it is fully resolved. Through this metric, organizations gain valuable information about their incident response capabilities, enhancing operational efficiency, reducing downtime, and improving customer satisfaction.

MTTR can be measured by dividing the total downtime of a system or process by the number of failures that occurred during that time. The formula for MTTR might be:

Total downtime / Number of failures or Total time spent on repairs / Number of repairs

This calculation results in the average time taken to resolve an issue.

It’s important to note that the reliability of a system and the frequency of failures play a significant role in MTTR. Your team should be able to track issues immediately, see all the related details, and react quickly and efficiently. Monitoring paired with an incident management platform, like ilert, provides IT teams with a robust toolset that grants them the power to detect and resolve outrages and minor issues as fast as possible.

By leveraging Auvik’s features, such as the map, health check, TrafficInsights, and centralized Syslog data, you can quickly identify network issues, triage connectivity problems, assess device health, analyze network traffic, and identify root causes.

And by connecting Auvik to ilert, you are provided with a structured and centralized approach to incident response, ensuring prompt notification, effective collaboration among team members, and streamlined workflows for faster problem resolution.

Here are four vital steps that will reduce your MTTR and increase the uptime of your system. 

Step 1: Set Reliable Alerting

Reliable alerting is crucial for monitoring as it provides early notifications of abnormal or critical conditions in a system or network. Promptly alerting IT teams enables immediate action to prevent or mitigate potential issues, reducing downtime and improving overall system performance.

In brief, a good alerting system allows the team to prevent incidents before they financially impact the business. So, alerts are a fundamental aspect of IT incident response. Below is the checklist of requirements your alerting system should comply with.

alerting - screenshot illustration

Multi-channel support

By utilizing multiple communication channels, such as SMS, phone calls, emails, and mobile push notifications, multi-channel alerting increases the chances of reaching the intended recipients, regardless of their physical location or communication preference.

Deliverability

The tool you will utilize for alerting should guarantee that whenever an alert occurs, it will reach the responder. That’s why the alerting platform should provide worldwide notifications, act in accordance with national operators’ requirements, and grant your team a variety of adjustments. For example, you should be able to receive notifications even if your phone is in sleep mode.

Actionable alerting

Receiving a notification is the first step, and fast acting—the next one. Your system should enable you to acknowledge, escalate, and resolve alerts without switching between applications or logging into the system.

Settings to avoid alert fatigue

There are many tactics to avoid notification overload. You should also check if your alerting system supports maintenance windows to silence alerts during testing or repair periods.

Step 2: Use On-Call Schedules

On-call schedules play a pivotal role in reducing MTTR by ensuring a designated individual or team is always ready to promptly address incidents, even outside of regular business hours.

This immediacy in response eliminates the delay that might occur if incidents were only addressed during standard working hours or if there was confusion about who is responsible for addressing issues as they arise. Creating an effective on-call schedule requires careful planning and consideration of various factors.

Here are a few points that you might consider at the very beginning.

Rotation and Shift Planning:

  • Ensure that on-call duties are rotated fairly among team members.
  • Define reasonable shift durations to prevent burnout.
  • Consider having a brief overlap between shifts to facilitate smooth handovers.

Availability and Redundancy:

  • Ensure there are backup individuals to cover for unavailability or emergencies.
  • Consider having more than one person on-call for high-priority services.

Skills and Expertise:

  • Ensure that on-call individuals have the necessary skills to address potential incidents.
  • Provide adequate training to handle incidents effectively.
  • Define clear compensation policies for on-call work.
  • Secure that the on-call schedule complies with labor laws and regulations.
  • Check that the schedule supports adherence to Service Level Agreements.

Documentation and Handover:

  • Ensure that all incidents and actions are documented.
  • Define clear handover protocols to manage shift changes smoothly.

Step 3: Automate Repeated Actions

Your team may already have workflow patterns when incidents occur. The next step is to automate those actions. 

By establishing predefined actions in response to specific alerts, the incident management system can autonomously perform initial steps to manage issues, such as isolating them, restarting services, or even executing scripts to fix known problems. Incident management platforms also enable you to connect your most used tools and automatically initiate specific actions. Depending on the emergency and the impact the alert has, those actions might differ. 

For example, in the case of Auvik, you may decide to automatically send alerts to Slack or Microsoft Teams to ensure that all communication on specific alerts is held in one place. Or you can consider connecting your monitoring tool to Zendesk or other ticketing systems to create tickets related to issues. 

Such automation eliminates the manual steps of logging incidents, ensuring that no time is wasted and that incidents are documented consistently. Furthermore, automated actions can be set up to assign incidents to the appropriate teams, update ticket statuses, and even implement standard remediation procedures, thereby accelerating the resolution process.

Step 4: Speed Up Communication

We know MTTR is important. But when an issue arises, ongoing communication can take a significant amount of time. Apart from discussing how to resolve the issue, engineers also have to communicate incidents to customers, update status pages, and keep stakeholders in the loop.

AI tools integrated with your incident management solution should significantly reduce the time you spend preparing proper wording. AI, specifically trained to understand your system and the nature of incidents, can provide accurate and timely updates.

Here are several features that AI is already capable of in the context of incident management:

  • Compose a polite, informative, and precise description of the incidents
  • Assume which services are affected
  • Update communication assets according to the status your team provides
  • Create post-mortem documentation according to all data from your incident management platform and chat tools

This is only the tip of the iceberg as AI functionality grows rapidly.

MTTR Reporting: Requirements and Recommendations

reports screenshot

Effective tracking of MTTR can help organizations identify areas for improvement in their maintenance processes and enhance overall operational efficiency.

Here is the to-do list you can follow to establish reliable reporting.

Note: You may avoid many of the steps if you introduce an incident management platform to your tech stack. This way, you’ll automatically collect all data and delegate every step except interpretation.

  1. Define and specify the MTTR metric within your company. For example, you may decide on what is the exact time the issue began—when you received an alert or the alert was acknowledged. 
  2. Implement a tracking system. It might be manual tracking in logbooks or spreadsheets or automated tracking. The longer you collect data, the more reliable your reporting will be.
  3. Ensure that you collect all the crucial data according to your MTTR final definition.
  4. Categorize and organize data. You may filter data by system incident type or teams.
  5. Visualize data. Depending on who is the final recipient of the report, you can create advanced dashboards with various additional metrics, like MTTA (Mean Time to Acknowledge), or stick to one casual chart. 
  6. Analyze and interpret reports. Pay attention to trends and fluctuation, and search for dependencies. 

Final Thoughts

Reducing your Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR) is crucial in the IT operations landscape. The strategies and best practices discussed in this article offer valuable insights into how to enhance your network monitoring capabilities. By ensuring prompt alerts to the right team members and equipping them with the necessary tools, you can tackle issues swiftly and effectively.

Remember, the goal isn’t just about spotting problems; it’s about efficiently resolving them. Embracing these practices will not only improve your service quality but also elevate your organization’s overall productivity. So, take the leap, implement these strategies, and get ready to transform your network management approach for the better.

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