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on call [message #273428] Wed, 10 October 2007 07:38 Go to next message
jtsouthwell
Messages: 2
Registered: October 2007
Location: Jacksonville Florida
Junior Member
My company is currently in the process of trying to redefine the expected response times of our system admins when they are on-call for after hours support. As it stands now, we have admins in the office from 7am - 5am and an admin is on call 24x7 every other week. If called after hours or on the weekend, they are expected to return the call within 1 hour. There have been talks to change this to a 30 mins or even 15 min call back time. I am curious what other companies expect of their admins, so could you help me by giving feedback to the following questions?

1.) How often are you on call?
2.) If called, how long do you have to respond?
3.) Are you compensated extra when you are on call?
4.) Anything else you feel would be good information to share..

I appreciate all the feedback and help you can provide!

Thank you…
Re: on call [message #273440 is a reply to message #273428] Wed, 10 October 2007 08:54 Go to previous messageGo to next message
MarcL
Messages: 455
Registered: November 2006
Location: Connecticut, USA
Senior Member
Hi JT,

Forutunately my on call days are over, I can now leave that to others. But I have done more than my share of off-hours duty.

The frequency of coverage was totally dependent on how many others were in the rotation and it was split up equally.

I have worked for several different companies which required
24 X 7 support. The response times required varied depending on the severity of the issue, and the type of company it was.

Some general guidelines that I've seen used and that are in place at my current shop:

1) The logistics of the users logging an off-hours support call.
Generally it is not a good idea for the users to have the direct contact information of the admins on call as they WILL abuse it. Any off hours support needs to go through the help desk.(which is staffed whenever production is operating) They will do some initial diagnosis of the issue, determine the severity and if deemed necessary contact the on call person responsible for the system in question. If you don't have this luxury, then hopefully you have reasonable users.

2) The levels of severity we use are:
a) Level I - Production is down.
ASAP response required, If no response after 15 minutes,
the next person is called, whether they are officially
on call or not
b) Level II - Production can limp along with issues that
cannot wait until the next business day
Response time of 1 hour is required.
d) Level III - Minor issue, Help desk will not contact the
on call person

As far as compensation, there is no "official" compensation received for off hours support as it is part of the job description and agreed to as terms of employment. That being said an "unofficial" comp day now and then helps the cause.

Hope some of this helps.

Marc

[Updated on: Wed, 10 October 2007 08:59]

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Re: on call [message #273485 is a reply to message #273440] Wed, 10 October 2007 10:59 Go to previous messageGo to next message
jtsouthwell
Messages: 2
Registered: October 2007
Location: Jacksonville Florida
Junior Member
Thanks MarcL that helps a lot.

A little history of what is going on is we currently are on a hour call back response time. This is best effort and if the on call admin can not be reached within an hour the call then moves to the off duty admin. We currently do not have any severity levels so what is an emergency has not been defined. Of course a system down or severe degraded performance are considered differently and probably would not wait an hour to call the off duty admin.

What has been suggested by upper management is a 15 or 30 minute call-back on all off hour calls by the on duty admin. This would include all types of support calls, including minor ones. It was also suggested some form of disciplinary action if the on call person did not meet the 15 or 30 minute SLA.

I can see if the system is down but my issue is the 15 minute response time would be on all calls regardless of priority.

Thanks again for your input
- J
Re: on call [message #273499 is a reply to message #273485] Wed, 10 October 2007 12:39 Go to previous message
MarcL
Messages: 455
Registered: November 2006
Location: Connecticut, USA
Senior Member
A couple of thoughts for you to mull over.

I would strongly suggest that each admin who is doing the off-hours support build a rapport with the users. If you are supporting local applications I would highly suggest a visit or two with the folks using the system during the off-shift. Find out what they are facing and you might be surprised what you see. This will go a long way towards building mutual respect.

If disciplinary action is being suggested for lack of response from the admins, I would suggest the same for the users who log unwarranted calls. Too often I've seen users raise support issures for problems that clearly could of waited until the next normal business day.

If you don't have an intermediary party but the users are contacting you directly I would also suggest a company phone that is used strictly for support calls. The user would leave a voice mail and or text message with the urgency and a brief description of the issue.

I would try to sell to management coming up with severity levels and then work with your users to get those as clearly defined as possible within the SLA.

Sorry to ramble, but I know the hornets nest you are facing. I've been on all sides of it.

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