A playbook for calm incident response

NASA mision control room
By Camilo Jimenez on Unsplash

Incident response can be stressful. The system is on fire, the team has to fix it ASAP, and you’re working against the clock. Your users are getting frustrated, the company loses money, stakeholders constantly check for updates, and trust is at risk. What a nightmare!

The tension is so high that the incident responder forgets to communicate effectively or is so worried about keeping folks up to date that they take the wrong action, further compromising the system.

Your team may greatly benefit from an incident playbook at times like this. When a new incident kicks off, the responder creates a new document from a template. This document serves as a guide on how to respond to the incident. It removes a lot of stress from the situation and helps the team resolve the problem faster.

At Plot, we have a Notion template for our incidents that looks something like this.

✅ Checklist

The responder ticks off actions as they go through them.

Start communications:

Work on the issue:

When the issue is resolved:

✍️ Log

Populating the following log during the incident helps the responder put together an incident review document.

Finding or action taken Details Timestamp
Alert triggered <link> March 11, 2022 10:17

🚀 Additional tips for the incident responder

Of course, you can adapt this template to your needs. The main idea is that having a checklist in the first place avoids stress when responding to a problem.

🙌 Thanks for reading! I would love to hear from you if you have any thoughts around checklists for incident response.

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