Planned maintenance is usually scheduled out-of-hours to minimise possible potential disruption for service users but, even then, especially in today’s multi-connected global world, careful planning is essential. How should you go about it?
There are generally three steps to a planned maintenance period: before, during, and after. Each poses potential pitfalls and needs careful planning.
Before Planned Maintenance
Before maintenance starts, the teams undertaking the maintenance must assess the possible impact to service users, other applications and services, and other users. After developing a plan that minimises the potential impact, this plan must be communicated with all affected parties.
One often overlooked step during the planning phase are the possible “what if” scenarios. It is important to understand what could go wrong, at what points, and what the possible exit points and strategies are if things do go wrong. A suitable escalation strategy needs to be put in place and it’s important to ensure that the appropriate decision-makers will be available when those decision/ possible exit points are reached: who decides ‘do we restore or continue’? And at which points must they make those decisions?
During Planned Maintenance
Another common problem we encounter, one that arises during the scheduled maintenance period, is failing to deactivate system alerts on any affected systems. This has the potential to cause chaos – with a profusion of notifications to be sent to the monitoring team and even escalations being triggered. The tendency to overlook this is a particularly prevalent – and problematic – if your monitoring team is a third-party service, or in a different location to the team undertaking system maintenance. This oversight can be an expensive – and entirely unnecessary – mistake.
During the maintenance period, status updates and communication to those affected and involved are also vital – especially at the agreed decision/ exit points.
After Planned Maintenance
Effective communication has to continue into the post-maintenance phase: all end-users and involved parties need to know whether the job was successful or not and what the implications are either way.
Another very important task is to reactivate any system alerts that were deactivated prior to the scheduled maintenance period. Unfortunately, we’ve come across problems of absent systems monitoring far too often after scheduled maintenance!
How Can ITSM Cockpit Help You Better Schedule Planned Maintenance?
ITSM Cockpit offers a number of features designed to help you avoid these potential pitfalls and ensure a smoother planned maintenance experience.
- The ability to schedule the maintenance period in the time zone of your choice.
- Maintenance period can be scheduled in terms of date and time of beginning and end.
- Maintenance can be scheduled as ‘exceptional’ for one-off maintenance or ‘periodical’ for regular maintenance tasks.
- By selecting the applications impacted when scheduling planned maintenance, the users can easily see the applications that will be out or affected.
- Set maintenance-specific alerts; for example, to notify users that maintenance is late to complete, or if applications haven’t restarted successfully following the completion of the scheduled maintenance.
- Send automatic, easily personalised notifications and updates to the teams involved in the maintenance.
- An overview of all scheduled maintenance periods by day.
- Option for users to review active or upcoming maintenance jobs in order to anticipate the downtime of affected applications.
- Ability to share active or upcoming maintenance periods with end users, so they can check on the status of an application or associated maintenance before raising a new incident ticket.
As with most IT tasks, planning and communication are key. ITSM makes it easy to plan and schedule jobs and share information across teams and with users.
To find out more about how Cockpit ITSM could help you, please visit our website : www.cockpit-itsm.com