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Auto-assignments: Smarter notifications, less noise

When an error occurs, Opbeat checks Git and automatically assigns it to the developer best placed to fix the error. Receive fewer but smarter notifications, & spend more time being productive.


The problem

Developers today are responsible for monitoring, managing and fixing their code. Typically, they do so by using a variety of single-service or duct tape tools.

When an error occurs, the workflow usually goes something like this:

  • An error occurs somewhere in the web app.
  • You receive an email from your favorite error logging service and stop what you’re doing to inspect the details and work out what’s going on.
  • Everyone else in the development team receives the exact same email and stops what they are doing too.
  • Everyone jumps into Slack to find out who is responsible.
    • Eng1: “Is this related to the billing-update that Tom was working on?” asks a developer in the #chatops channel.
    • Eng2: “Yeah, looks like it, but is it in production yet?”
    • Eng1: “Not sure. Is he here?”
    • Eng1: “Ping @Tom”
    • Eng3: “Tom? He’s in a meeting.”
    • Eng1: “Again? I guess I’ll have to do it then…ugh, this code looks ugly.”
  • All the while, the server is burning and the customers are frustrated.

This is very noisy, time-consuming and disruptive. Everyone is notified, everyone is disturbed, but no one is responsible. No one wins.


When an error occurs Opbeat automatically assigns it to the developer best placed to fix the error, taking into account who wrote the code and when it was deployed.

We call this feature auto-assignments.

This probably sounds like a small statement, and an obvious thing to do, but auto-assignments has big implications for workflow & accountability in development teams, and because of the unique way that Opbeat works, Opbeat is the only service that has the ability to do this.

In the Opbeat auto-assignment workflow:

  • An error occurs somewhere in the web app.
  • Opbeat deduces who is the best-equipped person to fix the code and sends an automatic notification to his/her email & cell phone.
  • One person on the team is now responsible for the error. The remainder of the team can carry on being productive (they can still choose to receive notifications of new errors that haven’t been assigned to them if they wish).
  • The coordination and finger-pointing step is avoided completely, so the developers can focus their attention on putting out the fire, rather than who is to blame.
  • And because bugs are assigned to whoever is best placed to fix it, the hope is that the issue can be resolved even faster.

How does auto-assignments work?

When an error occurs, Opbeat cross-references it with the release tracking data (we access this data from our close integration with Git), using an algorithm to make deductions about who is best placed to fix the error.

Read the full announcement here, or enable integration with your Git repo to get started.

About the author
Rasmus Makwarth is co-founder and CEO of Opbeat. Rasmus is passionate about making the life of developers more productive, and consumes substantial amounts of coffee.
You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.