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Congratulations! You’ve been assigned to the Group Supervisor role in xMatters!
But, maybe you’re wondering what that really means, what you’ll be able to do in xMatters, and what even is a Group Supervisor, anyway?
The good news is that we’re here to help! This article provides an overview of the Group Supervisor role’s capabilities, and links to handy resources that will help introduce you to working with groups, shifts, escalations, rosters, and everything else you need to know. We’ve even got some tips contributed from our advisors and consultants in the field that might just help you become the best group supervisor ever.
Let’s get started!
Standard disclaimer about roles and permissions
Sorry – one last thing before we dig in. Owing to the extremely customizable nature of roles and permissions in xMatters, this article and the linked resources are limited to discussing the default Group Supervisor role as it exists out-of-the-box for most companies. Your experience and your role may not match precisely the descriptions provided here – but feel free to contact your xMatters administrator or Customer Support if you have any questions or requests.
What exactly IS a group supervisor?
The Group Supervisor role allows you to create, edit, delete, and manage groups in xMatters. It includes all the permissions included in the Standard User and Person Supervisor roles and adds the permissions necessary to interact with groups – meaning pretty much everything on the Groups tab in the web user interface.
Looking for a crash course to get you started? We’ve got you covered:
- Videos, videos, videos! We’ve got a bunch of short, helpful videos that guide you through different aspects of groups in xMatters. Watch them here.
- Check out our free, online training at https://learn.xmatters.com/. (If you don’t have a registration code, contact your Client Success Manager or your friendly neighborhood Customer Support rep for guidance.)
- If you have a little more time or prefer your learning to be more interactive, sign up for one (or more!) of our free training workshops, specifically xMatters 203: Groups & Teams.
Working with groups
Groups are super important in xMatters because they let you collect users, dynamic teams, devices, and even other groups, and notify them as a single recipient. You can choose to notify everyone at once – though you’re probably less likely to get a useful response with this method – or devise an escalation order to determine exactly how and when each group member should be notified.
To get started with groups, log in to your xMatters and click the Groups tab. There you’ll find a list of all the groups in your company, and access to the tools you need to work with them (click the image below for a better view):
Tips & tricks:
- As a group supervisor, you’ll be able to see all of the groups in the company, but you can only interact with or modify the ones that you supervise – that is, you must be listed as a supervisor of that group. (You’re automatically the supervisor of any groups you create.)
- When naming groups, try to use descriptive names wherever you can – though it’s not a bad idea to avoid spaces, for no other reason than it makes it easier when using the names in other parts of the application, like the REST API and the email triggers in Flow Designer. Also, some special characters are not allowed for similar reasons.
- Use the Description field to add any important notes about the group, or to explain to other users what the group is for.
- When creating a group, you can set it to “Active” or “Inactive”. Deactivated groups can still be targeted but won’t receive any messages. You can use this setting to make sure your group doesn’t get any unexpected notifications while you’re setting up escalation schedules and rosters.
Related help topics:
- Manage groups - how to use the Groups page
- Managing on-call schedules - what groups are all about!
- Group settings - here’s where you can set a group’s supervisors and observers
- View who’s on call – sometimes, you just need to know who’s on call right now, right away
Using the Calendar
The Calendar tab for each group lets you see all of the schedules within the group in a daily, weekly, or monthly format. You can interact directly with the schedule to add, modify, or remove shifts – we recommend using the Weekly view for this, as it gives you the best combination of flexibility when changing shifts and overview of the schedule.
Tips & tricks:
- You may need more than one shift if there are staffing changes from week to week.
- Use the Highlight Gaps check box to quickly see any gaps in your coverage schedule.
- When creating a shift with a “Weekly” frequency, make sure the duration of the shift is set to within a single day of the week and not the entire week. This will create a shift that repeats on the same day or days each week, and not multiple overlapping shifts.
- A dotted line next to a shift means that nobody is scheduled to cover that shift.
- To create a shift quickly, add a new 24x7 shift (the default), and then just drag it around! Drag the ends of a shift to change its duration, or drag and drop the whole thing to a different day.
- Or, just click and drag over a blank space on the calendar to create a shift right there.
Related help topics:
Shifts, rosters, and members
As mentioned, groups can have any number or combination of users, devices, dynamic teams, and other groups as members. To make sure that the right combination of people is targeted at the right time, you can group them into shifts, and then schedule the shifts to be active at certain times of the day. You can even get fancy and create shifts that are only active once, or only active on holidays, and populate them with different combinations of members.
Tips & tricks:
- While you CAN add a user’s device as a group member, doing so ignores any personalized settings that the user has set up on that device, such as minimum priority levels, timeframes, delays, and preferred notification order. Using a device as a group member is a tactic best saved for shared devices, such as an “on-call phone” used by shifts on a shop floor.
- Encourage your group members to use the temporary absence feature. This makes your job much easier by putting the responsibility of tracking vacations, sick days, schedule swaps, and other absences on the user.
- Adding wait times between group members not only gives your on-call responders time to look into and resolve an issue before the next person on the list gets notifies, it helps prevent alert fatigue and redundant or contradictory responses.
Related help topics:
- Schedule shifts - covers creating, deleting, renaming, and configuring shifts
- Schedule holiday shifts
- Advanced shift recurrence options – check out the example on how to create a weekly shift
- View and manage the group roster
- Browse members of nested groups
Setting up escalations
Here’s the thing about sending out notifications: most of the time, you don’t need to notify everybody in a group. The overwhelming majority of the time, all you really need is to notify one person. It just has to be the right person. And that’s where escalations come in.
By setting up an escalation path, you can notify one or two people – the ones most likely to know how to fix a problem – and give them time to respond or possibly even fix a problem before notifying anyone else in the group.
Escalations can be as simple as notify this person now and wait five minutes before notifying the next person, or as complicated as you need them to be and include things like multiple delays, nested groups, escalation tiers, and even rotating schedules.
Tips & tricks:
- Getting people used to using escalations instead of just blasting out a group email can be a real culture change, especially in some organizations. But stick with it! Once people see that they’re not only getting fewer notifications, but that the notifications they do get are far more meaningful, they’ll be big fans.
- Look very closely at your current escalation process. Does it seem random or “willy nilly”? Is it just an on-call calendar in a spreadsheet somewhere? Now is the time to embrace a reliable, predictable pattern, and the relief of an automated process.
- Nested or child groups will follow their own escalation path, but any escalation paths in the parent group will continue at the same time. Make sure your child group doesn’t have delays that exceed the delays in the parent.
- You can add a wait time at the very beginning of a shift. This can be useful if events in your system can self-resolve within a short period, and you’d like to build in some extra time to let this happen before anyone gets notified.
Related help topics:
Groups are the BEST when it comes to making sure you’re finding the right person at the right time on the right device, but what if you want to contact a certain set of people based on a different kind of criteria?
Imagine that you’re struggling with a thorny piece of software and could use some expert advice. You want to reach out to someone on the software team, but you aren’t sure who has specific experience with the software you’re using. With xMatters, you could send a notification to the “Problem Software” dynamic team, and only those people tagged as having experience with that software would get the notification.
Dynamic teams don’t have escalations or shifts because xMatters dynamically (see what we did there?) determines who should be notified each time one gets notified.
Tips & tricks:
- Dynamic teams are based on custom fields and attributes configured in your system by a Company Supervisor (or xMatters Customer Support).
- All members of a dynamic team are notified at the same time, but you can combine dynamic team notifications with response counts to make sure you get exactly the right level of support.
- Because the members of a dynamic team are not identified until the notification is being sent, they won’t get on-call reminders for groups that include their dynamic teams.
Related help topics:
- Manage dynamic teams
- Custom user information – explains all about custom fields and attributes
- Configure response counts – not exactly group-related, but a really useful feature for dynamic teams!
Using the Group Performance Report
The Group Performance report is a powerful tool that allows you to see specific data on how users, groups, and dynamic teams are performing, based on how they've responded to notifications. This is particularly useful as it lets you easily identify any users who may be taking longer to respond, or who may be inundated with events.
Group Performance reports are generated after an event has been terminated, and provides data based on the Average Time to Respond (TTR) for that event. If you're using the widget, you'll be able to see the Mean Time to Respond (MTTR), or the number of alerts that a group has received in a selected timeframe (Events by Group).
Generating a Group Performance report
Before you generate a report, an administrator will first need to configure how each response is recorded when evaluating performance, by defining at least one "Positive" response contribution value. Once this has been done, you can generate a Group Performance report for the groups you supervise by clicking Group Performance, under the Groups tab.
How to interpret the Group Performance report data
The Group Performance report provides you with the key information needed to determine how your users, groups, and dynamic teams are performing, helping you to easily see trends in data, identify any problem areas, and quickly improve the efficiency of your groups.
For example, if a particular user or a group is taking longer to respond than others in the same area, it may be due to how shifts are configured, that on-call shift members don't have the right configuration of devices, or that the devices are not receiving the notifications and need to be updated.
The Group Performance report is broken down into the following columns:
For a more detailed description of the Group Performance report columns, see Interpret performance report data.
The Group Performance widget
The Group Performance widget is a handy tool that allows lets you track response performance and event activity of the groups in your system, right from your dashboard. Simply drag it in, and you'll be able to see a visualization of the key data from the Group Performance report, without having to export it to a third party program.
You're able to configure the widget to show data based on the time it takes for users to respond, or by the number of alerts a group receives:
- Mean Time to Respond (MTTR): The widget will display a graph based on the mean time to respond to events within a selected timeframe.
- Events by Group: The widget will display a graph based on the total number of alerts received by each group in a selected timeframe.
To learn more about the Group Performance widget, as well as how to customize your dashboard with other useful widgets, check out our handy-dandy guide to launching your xMatters dashboard - there's a whole section dedicated to setting up dashboards for group supervisors.
So, so, SO much more...
Groups and escalations are at the heart of what makes xMatters so powerful and useful. Of course, your use case is going to be unique and even with all this information available, you might still have questions.
You can contact xMatters Customer Support via the Submit a Request option at the top of this page if you’re having an issue with groups or any other feature in xMatters.
Or, if you have one of our Customer Success Managers assigned to your account, they’d be more than happy to answer any questions and provide guidance based on their xPert-level knowledge.