On-Call Toolkit

Jul 12, 2016 by David Hiltner
On Call Toolkit

What tools do you need to be an on-call warrior or hero? In this blog post we’ll examine the instruments needed to be on-call. Our goal is to provide you with on-call gear and tool ideas that help make your on-call experience successful; whether you’re an on-call novice or pro. We welcome any additional tips from our readers by responding to this post through our social media channels -- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

Attitude and Aptitude: Let’s face it…being on-call has never been pleasant, but you wouldn’t be on-call if your knowledge and expert understanding during outages weren’t needed by your organization. Having the right attitude going into any on-call scheduled rotation can help dictate how pleasant the experience can be. Also by notifying those around you upfront that being “called” is always a possibility it can help affect your attitude positively going into an on-call rotation.

Smart Mobile Device: This seems like a no-brainer, but a smart phone that allows you to review email, internet, as well as SMS messaging can make or break an effective on-call rotation. Some companies use alerting and incident management tools that effectively use mobile apps, SMS, email, and call routing to schedule and escalate alerts to the appropriate individual or team needed for the specific outage.

Smart Phones

Wifi Hotspot: A good private or personal wifi hotspot is essential for those on-call warriors who may have to travel or be on the road while on-call. An on-call road warrior, if you will. A personal wifi hotspot can be your best friend and will give you the freedom to review and respond to incidents from practically anywhere. Most mobile devices allow you to use your dedicated mobile plan to set-up or turn-on a personal wifi hotspot, which can be quite convenient. There are also individual wifi hotspot devices that you can purchase if your phone does not provide this service. These wifi hotspots are relatively cheap and along with your mobile plan can relieve you from having to search for the nearest Starbucks, library, or restaurant that has a free or paid wifi connection. Plus a private wifi hotspot device usually has a much stronger signal than most public wifi locations. Trust me, you’ll know the difference between a private and public wifi connection once it takes you 5 minutes to load a webpage only to say it’s not found.

Smart Phones

Pager: Is this still being used?


Chat Applications: Using a chat app, such as Slack, is great to quickly assess and respond to a problem or issue. Slack allows for various ticketing and monitoring system integrations to quickly get notified and allows for a more immediate response. Using an alerting and on-call management tool that integrates with your chat application can help keep these notifications in order.



Alternate Power Source(s): Having an alternative power source for your mobile devices, as well as your laptop, can come in handy when on the road. There are many affordable rechargeable battery packs for mobile devices in the market...or just attend a conference, and they’ll probably give you one for free! Another great tip is to purchase a second laptop battery and keep it in your laptop bag for those moments when you need extra juice. It happens more than you think and you’ll be thankful that you planned ahead.

On-Call Team Lists: Keeping an on-call phone lists of other team(s) members and managers will help alleviate any additional anxiety when you're contacted to address an issue or problem. You may think you have this information stored somewhere on your computer or in your email, but trust me when I say, searching for this information can be a trying experience when you’re looking to resolve an issue.


Headphones or Earbuds: These come in handy when you’re in a public area and you need to sit-in on a live bridge or conference call. Freeing up your hands as much as possible while not missing critical information can make all the difference in the world.


Lots of caffeine: Umm, no explanation necessary. Redbull and coffee can be your best friend at times. For more healthier options try peanut butter… Of course, if you’re not allergic. But you’ll be surprised by the additional level of energy that little nut can bring.

In most cases you may think to yourself, “Well, yeah. Of course I need this stuff.” Or you may say, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” The objective of this blog post is to open up a great dialogue on what tips, tools, and tricks of the trade you use to help keep yourself engaged while on-call. Please feel free respond to this post on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google+.

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