Video AMA: Humane On-Call with Jeff Smith

After the great success of our last video AMA, we are happy to announce that for March our guest will be Jeff Smith!


Jeff has been in the technology industry for over 15 years, oscillating between management and individual contributor. Jeff currently serves as the Manager of Production Operations for Centro, a media services, and technology company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Before that, he served as the Manager of Site Reliability Engineering at Grubhub.

Jeff is passionate about DevOps transformations in organizations large and small, with a particular interest in the psychological aspects of problems in companies. He lives in Chicago with his wife Stephanie and their two kids Ella and Xander.

How This Works

Post your questions to Jeff in this thread - we’ll collect them up and Jeff will answer them in a live-stream video at 8 AM PT on March 22, 2018. Questions should be posted no later than Tuesday, March 20. You can also tweet your questions for Jeff to us via our twitter handle, @devopseveryday. Please use the hashtag #pagerdutyama

In addition to your questions about post-mortems in general, we encourage you to interpret “AMA” as “Ask My Advice”!

Here are some example questions to get your creative juices flowing:

Tell Jeff about how you do on-call now, and get expert advice
Here are specific challenges we have with burnout for on-call folks - how do we do it better?
What can individual contributors do to help make on-call better for their colleagues?


How do you order your Italian beef?

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Humane On-Call AMA Questions

  • What are some examples of humane and not humane on-call experiences?
  • What’s the manager or team lead’s role in managing the on-call experience in terms of it being humane?
  • What are examples or traits of a manager or team lead who wants to ensure a humane on-call experience?
  • What are examples or traits of a manager or team lead who doesn’t care about having a humane on-call experience?
  • Does a humane on-call experience require active participation, continuous feedback and improvement cycles? Explain.
  • Can the Human Resources organization help ensure a human on-call experience?
  • When should an employee, manager or team leader reach out to their Human Resources partners for help?
  • How can modern Human Resources policies, tools, benefits aide the manager or team leader in ensuring a humane on-call experience?
  • How can a manager, team lead or Human Resources partner measure, track and improve the on-call experience?
  • What happens if the on-call experience doesn’t improve? Can you provide some examples from your experience? How has the business been impacted? How were teams or employees impacted?
  • Is there correlation between the on-call experience and the quality of application or service availability, performance, release quality/velocity, etc?
  • Are there any tangible business benefits you can attribute to having a humane on-call experience in your career?

What method do you think is best to on board new engineers to the on-call rota?
i.e. Is it humane to demand someone start the on-call rota with no more than 24 hours notice then threaten to remove them from the business when they don’t comply or would it be better to allow them time to prepare ?

I’m happy to share with you the video responses from Paul!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

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