How to schedule users as unavailable? Easier management of "Time-Dependent" groups.

We have a team distributed across many time zones and have found that “Time-Dependent Group Notifications” is the only PagerDuty method that works for us.

How it works:

  • Each user has their own PD Schedule configure to their “business/working hours”.
  • All of those schedules are at the 1st layer of the Escalation Policy.
  • Typically we have 3+ users available at any time.
  • 2nd layer of Escalation Policy is the official On-Call engineer for the week.

But what if a user is not available?

2 problems:

  1. Have to override that users personal schedule with another user. That won’t work as that other user will have different working hours. And they may also be unavailable.
  2. I would need to override each instance. Over 2 weeks, that is a lot of manual overrides.

At this time, our only option is:

  • Remove the users schedule from the escalation policy, and then remember to add it back when they return.

Simple features to solve problem “1” above:

  • Ability to assign an override to “Skip/None/…” instead of only to specific people.

Better feature which would solve many problems and likely win more PagerDuty customers/deals:

  • “Dynamic Schedule”: Ability to have a specific schedule which is tied to users “availability”.
    • Availability could be an “opt/clock-in” when they are available, or tied to API, such as to Slack availability or a phone system.
    • This would not affect existing manually managed schedules, and you’d put the next layer in the “Escalation Policy” to ensure the incident is caught if no one is “available”.
    • This is fairly standard practice in teams to ensure coverage of queue/monitoring-dashboards/phones and to make sure someone is in over lunch breaks, shift handovers, …
    • Extra: PD could ask users if they are available. So no one forgets to clock-in. (When it’s not tied to API/Availability).

Another feature:

  • Ability to mark a user as a way.
    • Essentially removing them from the schedule and escalation policies for that period of time.
    • If no other users are at that layer of the schedule or escalation policy, then it should automatically go to the next layer.

Hi Sean,

Thank you for taking the time to leave such clear and detailed feedback! I can see how the inability to create easy overrides would be a challenge for your team’s schedule structure. Certainly relying on a such a manual ‘override’ (removing the user’s schedule from the escalation policy when they are unavailable) is not the ideal solution.

I’m the Product Manager leading PagerDuty’s newly formed Core User Experience team. The good news is that our team plans to address some of the most common schedule pain-points later this year. I’d love to schedule a call with you to hear any other feedback you might have on our schedule tooling. Is it OK if I reach out via your email address?

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Katie - Apologies for the delay. Yes, very happy to discuss.

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