Advice on managing overrides in dynamic environment?

We have reasonably complex on-call schedule (follow-the-sun, using three 8 hour shifts) which includes around 60 people. Managing unavailability and creating overrides has historically been a manual process. With school closures due to COVID-19 a significant portion of the team are working modified or reduced hours, and we have many more exceptions to manage.

We’re looking for some advice about how best to define a low-touch process for managing these exceptions, where:

  • each team member can indicate when they’re unavailable to cover a scheduled on-call shift
  • the rest of the team has visibility of this, and can volunteer to take an override

Our thoughts so far:

  • Create another user account named “Coverage Needed”, or similar
  • Each team member creates overrides using the “Coverage Needed” user if they have a conflict
  • We poll the list overrides API, filtering on overrides for “Coverage Needed” user
  • Use this to notify the broader team (via email or Slack), asking for volunteers
  • Volunteers update the override to themselves

This should solve our problem, however before setting this up we wanted to ask if there is a better way to manage on-call operator unavailability/overrides in a dynamic environment?

Hi Nick! Thanks for posting and sharing your use case. The workaround you mentioned would be the best option to improve the process of overriding a variety of on-call shifts on a schedule for now. We often see other users implement a “dummy user” to use for holidays or other use cases where a real on-call user would be unavailable for their shift.

Feel free to reach out to us in support if you have additional questions! support@pagerduty.com

Excellent, thanks for the feedback, Nadine!