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Your Peers at a Major Incident Roundtable

Your Peers at a Major Incident Roundtable

On a foggy day in London last November, xMatters brought together IT decision-makers from a range of industries for an Executive Roundtable on Proactive Communication in Major Incident Management. Each of these decision-makers also manages IT communications We had a spirited discussion and came away with plenty of good ideas on how to get ahead of major incidents and make the investment to do it right.

Over my next couple of blogs I’ll be sharing some of the insights and recommendations from this roundtable based on real-life experiences.

How did we get here?
Faster networks, advanced enterprise software, and mobile apps provide organizations more choice than ever in how they communicate with their employees, customers, suppliers, or other third-party stakeholders. During a crisis or business issue, a company’s reputation can hang on its ability to communicate with these groups effectively. Social media and 24-hour news cycles make a spectator sport out of analyzing how organizations deal with their issues; and companies that do it poorly can lose reputation, customers, and public trust.

One of our roundtable execs phrased it this way:

“One variable is the increase in security related incidents. The number of these has grown exponentially. And when you’re thinking of the reputational risk of these, it changes the game.”

Cut through the noise by taking the time to get it right
The best way of navigating through these risks is to plan ahead and ensure the right systems and people are in place. But identifying the most effective tools and processes for delivering critical messages can be daunting. Our panelists suggest you simplify the task by taking one smart step at a time.

One of the first steps is differentiating a major incident from a regular occurrence. Regular occurrences are usually dealt with by specific individuals or smaller teams. However, major incidents frequently get messy, and incident managers often involve a larger party from different departments with different roles and responsibilities.

While there are merits to taking each issue on a case-by-case basis and looking at the circumstances involved, it is imperative to have criteria for when to report an incident. For example, does an incident become major just because an executive reports it? While different groups (such as management) should be informed about incidents, they are not always in the best position to assess risk.

What factors determine whether an incident is classified as a Major Incident?

what factors determine whether an incident is classified as a Major Incident?

Data breaches and malware attacks account for more major incidents every year. Smaller groups often deal with these security incidents behind closed doors because they require a different set of decisions and are often escalated more aggressively because they can have a critical business impact. Our panel agreed unanimously to characterize these incidents as major.

which of the following are considered Major Incidents?

Which of the following are considered Major Incidents?

How many major incidents are too many?
The roundtable debated the target number of major incidents as a way of helping to narrow down the definition of a major incident.

I hope it’s OK if I quote myself:

“If you’re dealing with one a week, your classification is either too loose – so too easy to classify something as a major incident – or something is seriously wrong. You actually have to spend some time and say, ‘We need to get this under control.’”

Another attendee agreed, saying:

“How many (major incidents) are acceptable in a year? If you have 70, 80 in a year then there’s something wrong as you’re constantly firefighting and need to address the root cause.”

To get more facts on major incidents and what your peers worldwide consider to be a major incident, download the Major Incident Management Survey Report conducted by Dimensional Research.

Watch out for my next blog, which will cover the topic of gathering the fixers for faster response rates.

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