Welcome!

Blog Feed Post

Learning by Design

I joined PagerDuty in 2014 when the company was, by many measures, a successful startup. The company was growing and had become the default choice for businesses that needed an effective and highly reliable IT alerting tool. I believe that early success was due, in part, to its founders choosing to solve a very specific problem that they had experienced first-hand. Their experience created a critical ingredient for successful product design: empathy. Having empathy means appreciating the target audience’s context and goals, their problems and priorities, their existing tools, constraints, and assumptions. PagerDuty’s founders developed knowledge over time through their work as on-call engineers, then leveraged this knowledge to build a cloud service for people in similar positions. That foundation in empathy is one of the qualities that convinced me to join the company as a user experience designer.

What convinced me to grow my career at PagerDuty was the company’s commitment to learning. Success in business is transient, and as I learned in my first few months on the product team, PagerDuty had no intention of resting on its laurels. The company aspired to go beyond on-call notifications and support the entire incident response process. To achieve that goal, we started by asking some big questions:

  • What are common models and tools for incident response? What is working well, and what is working poorly?
  • Who participates in incident response? What are their goals?
  • How do responders, managers, and impacted end-users differ in how they think about incidents?
  • How well does PagerDuty model and surface what people in different roles across an organization actually care about?

Desire to Make a Difference

To answer these questions, we could not rely on institutional knowledge and the occasional feature request to inform product design. To develop empathy for people who didn’t use PagerDuty and who faced a set of challenges unfamiliar to us, we had to devise a new way to learn. One of my trusted guidebooks in the discovery phase of user research is Interviewing Users: How to Uncover Compelling Insights by Steve Portigal. I recommend this book to every member of my team. For one, it’s a short read, and secondly, everyone who’s involved in the product-making process should understand how to talk to users in a way that yields valuable insights. Leveraging Portigal’s framework for conducting user research, we interviewed customers across a wide range of industries and organization sizes about their incident response practices. Not everyone attended every interview, but along the way, representatives from product management, engineering, user experience, support, marketing, and sales listened in and shared their key takeaways. We then met as a cross-functional team to synthesize the data and create a prioritized list of needs and opportunities. My colleagues’ engagement and desire to make a positive difference left a deep impression on me. I feel truly fortunate to work with people who genuinely care about our shared mission.

Swapping Engines in Flight

It was a good thing that my team was committed to the cause because we needed every ounce of enthusiasm to digest our findings. In talking to our users, we realized that building upon PagerDuty as it existed in 2014 would make solving their incident response problems extremely difficult. To drive an effective incident response, people need to know what is broken and the scale of impact. PagerDuty couldn’t convey what was broken because it tracked monitoring tool integrations, not the services/applications being monitored. PagerDuty couldn’t convey the scale of impact because it represented every critical alert from a monitoring tool as an incident, even though many customers told us that the way they respond to alerts is different than the way they respond to incidents. We realized that to achieve our goal of supporting the entire IT incident response process, we were going to have to evolve the fundamental constructs within our application without disrupting customers who were happily using the product. In essence, we had to perform the equivalent of swapping out our jet engines in flight.

It took multiple product development teams working in careful collaboration and months of iterative development, but we did it. Today, PagerDuty services can model our customers’ services and applications, no matter how many tools are monitoring them. PagerDuty incidents can model our customers’ incidents, whether there are zero alerts involved or thousands. I am astounded at how seamless the transition has been from our customers’ perspective. Customers were not forced to change their workflow or go through a complex migration process. If a customer wants to continue using PagerDuty for highly reliable IT alerting, they can. And when they’re ready to transform their digital operations, PagerDuty is ready to help them make the leap.

When people ask me what I like most about working at PagerDuty, I have to say it’s the feeling of making an impact. But the best part is that I’m not making that impact alone. I have close partners throughout the organization who have put in the effort to cultivate empathy for those we aspire to serve. They’ve demonstrated their willingness to act upon what we learn, even if it means ripping out and replacing the guts of the product with surgical precision. No one claimed that evolving PagerDuty from an IT alerting tool into a digital operations platform would be easy or straightforward. But here we are, two years later, and I know the possibilities for where we go next are limited only by our own vision.

If you’re interested in shaping that vision, come join us!

The post Learning by Design appeared first on PagerDuty.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By PagerDuty Blog

PagerDuty’s operations performance platform helps companies increase reliability. By connecting people, systems and data in a single view, PagerDuty delivers visibility and actionable intelligence across global operations for effective incident resolution management. PagerDuty has over 100 platform partners, and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including Microsoft, National Instruments, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Rackspace, Etsy, Square and Github.

Latest Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
After more than five years of DevOps, definitions are evolving, boundaries are expanding, ‘unicorns’ are no longer rare, enterprises are on board, and pundits are moving on. Can we now look at an evolution of DevOps? Should we? Is the foundation of DevOps ‘done’, or is there still too much left to do? What is mature, and what is still missing? What does the next 5 years of DevOps look like? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by DevOps Summit Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists loo...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations might...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...