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Ready-To-Act: A Quick Step Guide For Managing Major Incidents

In a perfect world, requests would be managed promptly and efficiently, major incidents would never happen and customers would always be happy.

Perfect worlds simply do not exist. But this is the real world, stuff hits the fan. Seconds of service and infrastructure down time can result in major financial losses, loss of organisational, stakeholder and customer confidence and in some cases death. 

By Dr. Don Page, ITSM Strategic Director, Marval Software


In the event of a major incident (MI), having a recovery plan in place is essential. This plan should define a recovery process and the key roles and responsibilities of everyone involved: the Support Team, the Senior Management, specialists and any other stakeholders (e.g. HR representatives, PR personnel, partners or suppliers, etc.).

To develop a successful and functional recovery plan, be READY TO ACT:

R: Record your organisation’s departments, operations and functions, as well as your available resources. Keep your records up to date.

E: Evaluate the risk and potential impact to different services and operations. Some business processes may be more vulnerable than others; or the impact may be greater.

A: Address all possible aspects of your organisation that may be affected, such as people, services, assets, infrastructure and communications networks. Include backup facilities, remote locations and your key suppliers.

D: Distribute your plan to your senior management, any stakeholders and your team. Make sure everyone is familiar with their roles and tasks in case of an emergency. Paper copies are key - Provide softcopies as well as hardcopies of the plan, as an emergency could affect people’s access to devices, systems and networks.

Y: Yield a report of anticipated results, based on your plan. Include both negative and positive (if any) impact.

T: Test the effectiveness of your plan. Your organisation’s needs change and grow; make sure your plan is updated to include any new additions. Test your plan regularly, to ensure everyone is aware of the process.

O: Organise cross-team meetings to ensure the processes and procedures are properly communicated and understood across the organisation and the messages are reinforced.

A: Allocate sufficient resources to respond effectively and quickly. Whether people, spare parts or other equipment, make sure you have the resources (or alternative suppliers) to respond to an emergency as soon as possible, minimising the potential impact to your organisation and your customers.

C: Communicate frequently and promptly and share any developments. Make sure that the business, stakeholders and any affected users are kept informed. Prepare a draft management, stakeholder and/or public announcement for your website, your social media profiles and the press, and be ready to provide regular updates.

T: Train your people and the users. Everyone who could potentially be affected should be trained appropriately. Arrange post-incident reviews and share any lessons learnt, to optimise and update your plan and its execution in the future.

While you cannot really avoid a major incident, you can minimise the risk of it happening, as well as its potential impact:

·        By integrating maintenance tasks effectively in your team’s schedule

·        By recognising the warning signs, identifying dependencies, risks and vulnerabilities and being proactive

·        Using real-time reporting and dashboards to keep you on top of the MI

·        With thorough reports and analytics, that help assess and evaluate the situation

·        With automated updates, based on pre-agreed frequency, sent to senior management, affected customers and other potential stakeholders

·        Using a feature-rich ITSM tool, like Marval MSM, which allows you to effectively manage the major incident (MI) from start to finish

This is the real world and major incidents do happen. When they do, be prepared and rely on your people to respond rapidly and effectively; backed by premium technology, a tested and proven process and your organisation’s customer-centric culture.

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