The facilitator of the call needs to be carefully selected. This person needs to be a leader and be able to demonstrate control. They need to be well respected and should be at the right management level. They need to ensure that the call sticks to the agenda and covers what is most important. They need to make the group feel comfortable and also set a tone of punctuality and brevity. Some people will want to talk and take over the call. Think of this call as a radio show and the last thing the host wants to do is allow all the callers to take over the show—results would be chaos. So the facilitator needs to allow dialogue for updates on each of the outages, but when the dialogue turns to problem solving or pointing blame, this is not the forum and the facilitator will need to cut people off (tactfully) and ask them to take the dialogue offline. Consistency is also important and I’d recommend sticking with the same person for a year at a time.
The duration of the call should be 15 minutes. There may be times it will go longer, generally on Monday when your covering activity of the weekend or if you’ve never had them and are just starting out. But work aggressively to keep the call to 15 minutes. The discipline around the time is important as it helps you keep the dialogue to the point and it sets a tone for everything in your operations. The best time to have this call is 8am in the morning. If you have staff spread across various time zones, you’ll need to figure out the best time zone to anchor to. Always start the meeting on time or even a minute early!!
The participants should include your management team, support staff, field staff (especially important when you have staff in various locations) and whoever else would like to attend from IT. It is also beneficial to have your technical architects and senior engineers either on the call or receive output from the call (I explain later why this is important). But the call should not include people outside of IT. If the business needs an update, other communications should be established, do not use your daily ops call for that purpose.
The agenda should include Outages in progress, Updates on outages that occurred and resolved in the last 24 hours (or over the weekend on the Monday morning call), any major changes or events that are going to occur in the next 24 hours and any follow up actions regarding the outages. It is very important that you stick to the agenda and not deviate from the agenda. You should avoid using the call as a way to resolve outages or discuss what should have been done. Those discussions should occur offline. This call should focus on awareness of the current state and whether you have the right people engaged. Then appropriate follow up throughout the day.
Following the call you should distribute a daily operations report to appropriate IT staff. Depending upon how you structure the report, it may be a good communication tool to people outside IT. The report should communicate the current state of outages in progress as well as updates from the past 24 hours. The updates from the ops call should be included as well as other information you deem beneficial that may not have been included in the daily ops call. For example you can include major project updates, especially if you have a large deployment in progress.