Our (large) company is experiencing a problem where certain internal sites will often have maintenance down-time, and employees will often not be aware, causing them to call the web services team, costing productivity for both the employee who didn't expect the outage, and for the employee answering the phone. We currently send out emails (which we found that users tend to automatically delete), as well as posts on the company intranet, however while doing research for an intranet redesign, not knowing when outages will occur is still one of the most voiced complaints.

I've played around with the idea of implementing text-based notifications, which my team is against (forcing the horse to drink when it's not a dire situation), and when I brought up the idea of putting a notification bar on the sites themselves, they came back with the fact that it could get very complicated, as there are many internal sites. I'm wondering if there are any obvious (or not) strategies that I may be missing, that could potentially solve this problem?

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I still think you should put a notification of some sort on the site itself. Maybe even place a notice on the site during the week leading up to the planned maintenance time. This takes care of a few things:

  • Placing the notice on the site makes it more likely to reach the relevant users, users who actually use the site (vs spamming everyone with an email)
  • Showing the notice on the site in the week leading up to the planned outage gives users time to prepare for the maintenance period
  • Eliminates the excuse "I never got the email about this"

Of course, there will always be a few employees who never read these things even with all the extra effort you put in to notify them in advance. However, I'm willing to bet that you will get less phone calls regarding this issue.

Though it may seem "complicated" to implement these notices on all the internal sites you need them for, it may be well worth the effort if it eliminates the issues you are having with your employees and maintenance periods.

Also, I don't know what your infrastructure looks like, but I don't think implementing some kind of modal or visible alert bar with the notice should be too difficult. I could be wrong.

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