How to Open PagerDuty Incidents from Slack

SlackOps for PagerDuty Part 1

This is the first of a series we are doing to help you master your incident management process. If you have not read PagerDuty’s incident response documentation, I recommend you give it a read because each installment of our series will generally follow how you can operationalize one of the aspects of that documentation from within Slack.

One last matter before we dive in. You might be wondering why you should worry about improving your incident management process or you know you want to, but just don’t think you can afford the time. You might even be thinking that since most simple tasks around incident management can be done in 25–45 seconds so there isn’t a whole lot to be gained right? Challenge those thoughts after I share this example. Well let’s take for example our focus task for this installment “Open an incident?” This simple task can generally be done using the PagerDuty UI in about 36 seconds. With RigD we can get that right from Slack in 10–16 seconds. That’s 20–26 seconds faster.

Now consider that a Rand Group report calculated the cost per minute of downtime for an enterprise at $5,600, and according to this PagerDuty Article companies have 7 major incidents per month. If you have to check on call just once during those incidents then your company has lost $23,520. You can prevent that and save your company that cost, time after time. That’s why I am writing this series. Please follow along with this guide and in about 10 minutes you will be able to set up collaborative automation to cut that cost to just $6,533. It also goes as a given that getting your customers being back up and running faster will help your company brand, and good user experience is a huge value on top of the cost savings. I’d like to hear from you after you try this, or if you have any questions along the way.

Step 1 Let’s Get Connected with PagerDuty

First if you haven’t installed the RigD Slack App go ahead and do it. You can add it from the Slack app directory by searching for RigD or numerous places on our website. There is no credit card or sign up needed, just a quick review and acceptance of our terms.

Next you will need to connect your PagerDuty account. You can do this in Slack by sending a message to the RigD app

add rigd tool

Then choose PagerDuty from the list of available tools to connect.

We use the PagerDuty OAuth2 authentication scheme, so you don’t have to provide any credentials to RigD. However, in order for that connection to work you are going to want to log into your PagerDuty account via the PagerDuty web UI first. Once you are done with that click the Connect PagerDuty button in Slack and a webpage will come up asking you to authorize RigD to access your PagerDuty account.

Once you authorize, we do a little behind the scenes back and forth with PagerDuty via API, and then you will get a message back in Slack that confirms the connection is set up.

Step 2 Open for Business, Let’s Create an Incident from Slack

With RigD installed and your PagerDuty account connected it’s time to open an incident. To do this we will send a message to the RigD App,

create pagerduty incident

When prompted simply provide the name of the service to open the incident in and then add a title.

Once your incident is opened you will see the details in Slack and have to opportunity to take just about any action imaginable to progress that incident.

You might be wondering why the screenshot has Suggestions. Good observation, RigD provides suggestions for specific inputs once you have used an input before. The suggestions will either be your last value for the input, or a commonly used value as determined by our machine learning system.

Step 3 Automate Incident Creating in PagerDuty from Slack

Now that you know how to open an incident lets simplify and speed up the task. To do this we are going to create what we call a flow. It’s going to be a simple flow that does one thing, facilitates opening an incident for a specific service. Then we are going to create an alias which allows you to run the flow with some letters or words of your choosing. We made this very simply by providing a simple activity to guide you through the setup. Start by accessing the PagerDuty help by typing

help with pagerduty

Then choose the open incident button

Now there are just a few questions to answer. The first is which PagerDuty service you are going to open the incident for?

Once you provide the PagerDuty service it time to choose some text that will trigger the activity in Slack, again we call this an alias. I recommend using something easy to remember. Alias can be incredibly helpful, but only if you remember how to use them.

The last question to answer is if you want to create a dedicated slack channel for the incident. This is an incredibly handy capability, having a dedicated channel helps to keep the activity focused on that specific incident and allows for the easy curation of data for post mortems.

With that our flow has been set up and we can now use our alias to open an incident. Note that an alias must be initiated starting with an ! then the text you chose. This helps RigD avoid accidentally running something based on random chitchat.

Now you will be just the title to complete opening the incident and then the Slack channel will be created with the PagerDuty incident number in the channel name for easy identification.

I hope this has proved to be helpful and inspires you to do more to simplify and accelerate your incident management process with RigD. Keep an eye out for additional parts coming soon, including part 2 which covers how to get PagerDuty on call details in Slack. You can also take a look at the technology behind RigD here, or try our Slack App out.

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