Every system administrator, at some point, needs to take an important service offline temporarily, for scheduled maintenance or for upgrades. In this article, Paessler provides guidance on what to include in a downtime announcement and how to communicate upcoming maintenance windows to your users.
Paessler’s Step-by-Step Guide to Downtime Announcements
- Scheduling Your Communication
If possible, give your users at least a few days’ notice for planned downtime. Depending on the expected impact, send one a week ahead of time, one a few days ahead of time, one the day before, and one the day of the planned downtime. This gives them enough time to prepare themselves and to mitigate the effect on their work environment. The larger the impact on users, the longer the lead time needs to be. Need assistance in guiding your customers? Click here to contact us!
- Scheduling Your Maintenance Window
For scheduled downtime, select a time that is the least inconvenient for the majority of your users. If your users are worldwide, you’re always going to affect someone. But if there are time zones with significantly fewer users than others, plan your maintenance around those user counts. Admittedly, this usually means it will be a very inconvenient time for the IT administrators. But it’s better for the company as whole to inconvenience a few administrators rather than large parts of the business.
- What Channels to Use
If possible, communicate the upcoming downtime using multiple channels. Email is the main medium used, but you can also communicate via social media, web pages, internal communication methods or on the application’s start page, as appropriate. The best medium will depend on whether you need to reach internal users, existing customers, or the general public. For additional information on which channels to use for your customers’ unique communication needs, contact us to learn more.
- Style of Writing
Keep it clear and concise. If your email isn’t short and to-the-point, it may get deleted before it’s read. Structure and format the text to make the most important details easy to find. Tailor the level of technical detail to your audience, too. Don’t overwhelm them with technical details they won’t understand but do give them enough information to assuage their concerns.
For sample email announcements to use a templates, you can refer to the full article here.
Paessler’s Guide to What to Include in Your Messaging
- The type of notification and the criticality of the update
- The customers and/or users that will be affected
- The exact start and estimated end time of the update
- An overview of what the update is accomplishing
- Any action that needs to be taken by the user
- Apologize for any inconvenience (even if it isn’t your fault)
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