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Primary, Secondary, and Shadow On-Call Schedules

let title = `Primary, Secondary, and Shadow On-Call Rotations`;

Primary and Secondary On-Call

In addition to having a single on-call rotation, your team may adopt the practice of having two on-call rotations.

This is often called a primary on-call as well as a second rotation called secondary on-call.

Secondary on-call can serve multiple purposes and can be implemented in a couple different ways.

Alerts are configured to page the primary on-call. The secondary on-call is available to assist the primary. Although all of the team is also available to help, the secondary should be mentally prepared for more interruptions. If a person is scheduled to be primary on week one and then secondary on week two, than secondary on-call can be a useful way to wrap up loose threads from the previous week.

Shadow and Reverse Shadow

An important way to prepare for your first on-call shift is to shadow the on-call for at least a week. In person or remotely, try to get the on-call to screenshare with you and to include you in their workflow.

You should plan to accomplish less project work during shadow weeks and be available to be interrupted by the on-call. Notice how they handle tickets, how they plan what they will work on, etc.

There may not be a high severity incident during your shadow week. To get some experience in shadowing incident response, for the month leading up to your on-call shift, ask each on-call to page you in to any customer impacting events.

If your team has a secondary on-call rotation, you might consider taking that role more often that would normally be scheduled.

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