What is a major incident?
A major incident causes a significant disruption to the business. Many times these incidents put the organization at risk. Not only is there a loss of productivity and/or revenue, the disruption may affect the organization’s reputation and brand.
Consider the recent Target security breach or the service outages that affected Blackberry Limited (formerly Research in Motion). Both of these companies suffered long term ramifications associated with major incidents that unfortunately were reported in the press.
A major incident is a disruption that requires a swift reaction from the IT organization in order to minimize lost productivity and revenue and appropriately manage risk.
5 Keys to a Success with Major Incidents
Major incidents can be chaotic and when a major incident occurs, a well-defined process is invaluable. Consider the major incident “keys to success” noted below when developing your major incident process.
1) Agree on the definition of a major incident when developing your incident management process. Ensure the criteria is understood by everyone.
2) Consider communications regarding the major incident early in the process.
a. Define the process and communication plan associated with ensuring the Service Desk and other critical IT staff are kept informed of the issue as well as progress toward resolution.
3) Identify and empower and Incident Manager. Even if your organization does not have a full time Incident Manager, assign the role to someone who can oversee and manage activities during the service disruption.
4) Focus on restoring service quickly and deal with the root cause of the incident at a later time. Don’t allow the team to be distracted by placing blame or developing controls associated with the root cause.
5) When troubleshooting the incident, ensure changes are documented and the emergency change process is followed to ensure there is an accurate representation of what is occurring in the environment.
During a major incident, there is added stress and scrutiny on the IT organization. A comprehensive major incident process will bring structure during a time of crisis ultimately helping to minimize the chaos and keep everyone focused on restoring service as quickly as possible.