Why MTTR is a Vital Metric for DevOps Teams

Because it is such a comprehensive metric, a high mean-time-to-resolve measurement might indicate problems with alerting or that your engineers are spending a lot of time on repairs. Therefore, it’s essential to look at MTTR over time and analyze each component of your incident management workflow: Time to alert engineers, diagnose the issue, test fixes, ship to production, conduct reviews and learn from the incident.

It may also be helpful to examine mean-time-to-resolve in conjunction with other metrics. To determine if your DevOps team is facing production challenges, evaluate your change failure rate (CFR) to see how many releases result in a downgraded service. Other DORA metricslike deployment frequency and lead-time-to-changes, are perfect companions for mean-time-to-resolve.

To establish the reliability of your software, you can look at mean-time-to-resolve beside mean-time-between-failures (MTBF), which calculates the average amount of time between incidents. If you’re updating your software often, compare mean-time-to-resolve with mean-time-to-failure (MTTF), which measures its duration before a program needs to be redesigned for functionality. To gain insight into your alerting processes, examine mean-time-to-detect (MTTD), which evaluates the time it takes your team to recognize that an issue exists.

How to Improve Mean-Time-to-Resolve

Alerting is the first stage of responding to an incident and should be one of the first areas to target when working to reduce mean-time-to-resolve. Ensure alerts are actionable and that DevOps team members have the tools they need to respond immediately. A straightforward escalation process is essential: Define responsibilities for each member and train the team in one another’s roles so that the process never grinds to a halt if someone is unavailable.

Preemptive monitoring can help you get ahead of problems before they arise—by proactively checking for potential incidents, you can avoid unexpected downtime.

The best way to improve MTTR is to standardize your operating procedures with runbooks. Without runbooks, DevOps teams have to respond without a clear direction and spend time messaging one another for information—they can’t act immediately. With runbooks, however, your organization’s knowledge base is centralized and accessible to all team members, enabling them to respond as soon as an issue comes up.

If you’re already using runbooks, consider automating responses. Automation not only improves your mean-time-to-resolve but will give your DevOps team more time to devote to implementing long-term changes that improve the stability of your service.

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