Incident Priority

Establish an incident classification scheme and add priority to incidents for effective triage

Incident priority allows you to classify incidents based on a level of prioritization. Just as alerts can have different severity levels and notifications can have different urgency levels, incidents can be classified into different priority levels. Priority labels are customized on a per-account basis, so you may configure the priority scheme in PagerDuty to match the scheme you may already be using in other tools.

Establish an Incident Classification Scheme

As a prerequisite for enabling incident priority, you should first establish an incident classification scheme. Your incident classification scheme establishes a common language and criteria for communicating about incident levels and response elements. This information is ideally shared organization-wide. It’s helpful to keep in mind that this scheme is not just for technical responders and support staff; other parts of your organization may need to be aware of incidents and their assessed impact, and occasionally participate in incident response, as well.

There are several steps to establishing an incident classification scheme:

  • List the incident classification levels: This is frequently P1 through P5 (for priority), or SEV-1 through SEV-5 (for severity). Typically, the lower the number, the higher its impact (i.e., P1 is more important than P5).
  • Define what each level means: Describe the impact and characteristics that apply for each classification level. These guidelines must be clear and objective enough that responders can accurately assess an open incident and assign exactly one level to it. That said, incidents may be upgraded or downgraded as the situation evolves.
  • Define the expected response: For each classification level, identify the expected scope and response urgency. Some organizations have a formal or informal service level agreement per level, as well.

For more information and examples, please read Severity Levels from our Incident Response Guide.

If your organization does not have an incident classification scheme in place, determining a small number of classification levels is essential for effective triage and major incident response processes. If, on the other hand, you have more than five classification levels, think critically about how many levels would benefit your organization in practice. The more levels you have, the more complex and time-consuming triage can become.

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Tip

With priority enabled, it is not possible to leave any levels blank. If your organization uses less than five classification levels, you can enter --- for any unused levels.

Enable Incident Priority

After establishing your incident classification scheme, the next step is to configure the levels in PagerDuty. Once enabled, your incident dashboard’s UI will change to include a Priority column.

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Required User Permissions

Only Account Owners can enable Incident Priority levels.

To enable this feature, in the web app:

  1. Navigate to User Icon Account Settings Incident Priorities tab.
  2. Click Enable Incident Priority Levels.
  3. You can classify incidents with five different priority levels. Customize your levels with the following:
  • Priority Level: This is frequently P1 through P5 , or SEV-1 through SEV-5.
  • Color: Color labels are used to draw attention to the most important incidents in a dashboard or other view. We recommend using distinctive colors for the levels corresponding to major incidents; this boosts more important incidents’ visibility. For example, at PagerDuty we use red and orange for our two highest levels, and then blue and gray variations for less pressing incident levels.
  • Description: Describe the incident impact and characteristics that apply for each classification level. These guidelines must be clear and objective enough that responders can accurately assess an open incident and assign exactly one level to it.
  1. Click Save.
Configure incident priorityConfigure incident priority

Configure incident priority

When you return to the Incidents page, you will see that the dashboard now contains a column Priority. The priority is also displayed in an incident's details in both the web app and mobile app. By default, past incidents will not have a priority, but you can manually add a priority to a past incident from an incident’s details page.

Prioritize an Incident

Prioritizing incidents helps drive decisions around the response process and also provides valuable context for other people. When looking at an incident, the priority gives an immediate and clear indication of prior assessment that has been performed. Incident priority can be set at the time of creation, or after the incident has been triggered. The following is an incident with a priority level set:

Prioritize an incident during triagePrioritize an incident during triage

Prioritize an incident during triage

In addition, priority is clearly displayed on the incident dashboard, making it easy to see when critical issues are active. You can sort incidents by priority on this page, so that whether looking at incidents for a single team or across your whole organization, you can instantly see critical issues:

View incident priorityView incident priority

View incident priority

In the Web App

At Incident Creation

  1. Navigate to the Incidents page and click New Incident.
  2. Select your desired priority level from the dropdown.
Set priority at incident creationSet priority at incident creation

Set priority at incident creation

  1. Enter remaining incident details, and click Create Incident.

To an Existing Incident

  1. Find the incident that you would like to prioritize and select it’s Title to navigate to its details page.
  2. Click the Priority dropdown and select the desired priority level.
Edit an incident's priorityEdit an incident's priority

Edit an incident's priority

In the Mobile App

At Incident Creation

  1. Navigate to the Open Incidents screen, tap the overflow menu (top-right corner of screen) and select New Incident... .
Priority in the mobile appPriority in the mobile app

Priority in the mobile app

  1. Tap Priority and select the priority level from the defined list.
Select prioritySelect priority

Select priority

  1. Enter any remaining incident incident details, and tap Create.

The incident will now have a label displaying its priority level:

View priorityView priority

View priority

To an Existing Incident

  1. Find the incident that you would like to prioritize. Tap the incident’s name to navigate to its details screen.
  2. With the Triage tab selected, tap Edit Priority.
  3. Select a priority level.
  4. Tap Confirm in the confirmation dialog box.

Via the REST API

In addition to the features available in the PagerDuty web app and mobile app, automated systems can also interact with incident priority. You can use the Incident REST API to specify an incident’s priority when it is created, and all relevant priority details are included when the API returns an incident object.

Please refer to our developer documentation for more information about working with incident priority:

Additionally, incident webhooks include information about an incident’s priority; please read our Webhooks Overview for more information.

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Note

Priority cannot be set from the Events API at this time.

Via Event Rules

You can configure event rules to automatically add priority to an incident when it is created. Please read Set Priority with Event Rules for instructions and more information.

Via Event Orchestration

Event Orchestration supports adding priority when an incident is created. Please read Incident Actions for more information.

Disable Incident Priority

The Account Owner can disable incident priority in the web app:

  1. Navigate to User Icon Account Settings Incident Priorities tab.
  2. Click Disable Incident Priority Levels.

Note: After disabling incident priority, PagerDuty retains your configuration settings. In other words, if you choose to re-enable incident priority at a later time, your historical settings will be preserved and you will not need to configure them again from scratch.


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