Yesterday I covered PagerDuty’s survey findings about the issues around work/life balance (or, specifically, the lack of it) in the IT industry. I was a little hard on PagerDuty for what I saw as a focus on the economic rather than the human aspects of the survey. Having had several colleagues commit suicide over the past year or two due to mental health issues, and seeing the epidemic of similar stories in our industry, I think it is incumbent on all of us to talk about the human aspects front and center.

That said, PagerDuty is a commercial organization, they are in the business of selling IT operations solutions and so, indirectly, they have the ability to be part of both eh conversation and, potential, finding solutions to the problems. So it was interesting to see the company launch a solution which it suggests is the industry’s first offering focused on IT responder health within the context of the growth of “always on” digital services.

PagerDuty’s new operations health management service is designed to offer organizations visibility into IT performance and, more importantly, the “HumanOps” aspects of it. PagerDuty wants to generate (excuse the buzzwords, they’re PagerDuty’s, not mine) “actionable human factor telemetry and industry peer benchmarks combined with an expert service advisory practice” that will help organizations evaluate the work/life balance of their employees.

What PagerDuty is trying to do here is actually vitally important. Historically, the performance of IT systems has been completely separate from an analysis of employees’ health and there has been no ability to capture metrics around the latter within enterprise systems. IT managers have never had tools at their disposal to analyze human factor operations data, much less be warned about any impending employee shift.

The idea, therefore, is that by leveraging this new solution, business leaders can proactively manage the health and well-being of their employees using the Operations Health Scores. Somewhat confusing their responsibility to safeguard the wellbeing of their employees with their responsibility to delight customers, one PagerDuty customer, Mary Moore-Simmons, Engineering Manager at SendGrid commented that:

As an inherently data driven company, we are constantly evaluating the health of our core tools and technologies, so it’s only logical that we do the same for our most precious asset: our people. Using PagerDuty’s Operations Health Management Service, we have the ability to drill down into the causes of operational pain and inefficiencies and course-correct before employees are lost or customers are impacted.

Personally, I wince when companies talk customer-impact and employee well-being in the same breath. Since generally a focus on the former is what is really causing issues in the latter. But I digress. This new solution is, I guess, at least a move in the right direction – PagerDuty can’t control how focused its customers are on the very central issue of worker well-being, so if articulating the proposition of this new tool in both human and economic terms, they indirectly make the world better for some folks, so be it.

Anyway, in terms of what this new offering actually delivers, key features of OHMS include:

  • Data-driven health scores: Using a total of 15 health indicators such as frequency of sleep interruptions and time-of-day notifications, the OHMS health score algorithm assigns a score of 0 to 100 for each employee, team, and service by day, week, month, and year. The OHMS Operations Health Score provides a holistic measure of organizational health: empowering IT leaders to analyze operational maturity and show measurable progress towards departmental and corporate goals.
  • Industry and peer benchmarking: PagerDuty has collected anonymized operations performance data over the last several years across 53 industry verticals, providing customers with a meaningful frame of reference against which to evaluate their own operations health.
  • Operations optimization: OHMS diagnoses the sources of health degradation, and recommends tailored solutions that can include implementing process improvements, enabling specific PagerDuty features, updating workflows to follow best practices, and identifying and fixing services causing frequent disruptions.

MyPOV

As I said before, if this new tooling actually results in IT employees improving their own work/life balance, then in my view this is a win. I do worry that there are some systemic issues that are causing problems here and that tools like this, while undoubtedly delivering economic benefits, merely tinker around the edges of the bigger issues.

There are some real problems in this industry, hopefully, PagerDuty’s new product will increase the level of conversation around those.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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