No one wants an emergency to delay or completely halt daily operations. But even with a state-of-the-art IT department, this reality can’t be completely avoided.
Still, it’s how your team responds to an emergency that determines whether issues are minor blips or serious catastrophes. If you haven’t performed a thorough review of existing protocols and processes for managing service interruptions, you could very easily be losing money every time your operations go down.
The Cost of Poor Communications
Not being able to complete routine work is an obvious side effect of an IT emergency. But the truth is, there are tangible financial costs associated with service disruptions. According to studies, every time you experience an event that disrupts operations by at least 15 minutes, you can lose anywhere from $35,000 to $135,000 depending on the size of your organization. Compounded across multiple events throughout a fiscal year, you could be throwing away a sum ranging from $280,000 to just over $1M.
Identifying Common Emergency Response Communication Errors
So, what exactly contributes to poor communication within your IT department? And what are the hallmarks of a poorly managed emergency response system as it relates to communications? While many people incorrectly assume that communication only relates to activities that occur during event resolution, the problem is far greater than the actual emergency. In many cases, companies have a pervasive problem plagued by inefficiencies, confusion, and a lack of accountability.
Overlapping Systems That Thwart Transparency and Speed
New systems and platforms are always being released in the IT world. And over time, many companies implement multiple solutions to target specific issues such as tracking tickets or monitoring server performance. Unfortunately, many solutions-focused products aren’t intended to coordinate with other integrations.
Over time, this can lead to a fractured patchwork of systems that — while effective within their scope of work — create delays as critical information can’t be easily relayed. As a result, your staff may require stop-gap measures such as designating someone to manually review as well as copy and paste mission-critical information from one system to another.
Erase this inefficiency by opting for an overarching system that brings all of those patchwork systems together under a single umbrella. Not only does essential information freely flow between systems, but critical resources like your employee’s time aren't wasted on redundant or mundane tasks. As a result, you may find that when emergencies arise, they’re flagged faster, and response times improve significantly.
Poor Event Automation
In a perfect world, the first response team to address an emergency would have the tools and solutions to fix it. But the reality is sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes, an emergency alert gets overlooked, or the problem is more serious than expected. Whatever the cause, eventually you’ll have a situation where you need to bring in more stakeholders.
Figuring out when to call in the calvary can be a tricky situation. But if the situation is that no one or not enough people have responded to the initial emergency alert, you shouldn’t be manually attempting to contact additional team members. Instead, you need a system that automatically triggers an additional round of alerts to designated individuals if the first alert didn’t receive a response. More importantly, your system should be able to automatically send alerts as soon as an emergency is detected, rather than relying on an employee to manually deploy it.
But to do this properly, you need a system that specifically allows you to pre-select essential personnel that is filtered based on the nature of the ticket as well as on-call versus backup team members. After all, your first step should be to reach out to team members who are actively on duty before escalating the ticket to staff that isn’t at work that day or are more senior within the organization.
The Channel Caveat
Just as important as automating your communication outreach strategy is ensuring that you can effectively contact whoever is listed in the emergency response chain of command. This means that if your business has been relying on basic alerts sent to company pagers or general emails — but with varying response rates — you also need to consider additional communication channels.
Regardless of whether your company has your staff consolidated in one building or distributed across multiple territories, there’s no excuse for relying on a single communication channel. A good emergency response system will give you access to multiple options such as SMS, email, and even company-wide messaging solutions. The more access points you leverage, the faster your issues can be resolved.
Communications Faux Pas — Desensitization
When emergencies arise, it’s important to send alerts promptly for a quicker response. But are you sending them to the relevant parties? Or, are you spamming everyone in your organization? Even if you’re only sending alerts to the members of your IT department, is everyone assigned to the same tasks? If delegation is at play, you need to do the same with your alerts and messaging.
While an occasional irrelevant alert might not be cause for concern, when done to excess it can have disastrous results. When you send too many or irrelevant messages to your staff, you’re training them to ignore you. This is called desensitization. Unfortunately, the risk is that when an alert is released that is relevant, key team members might not reply promptly.
Put an end to this annoying faux pas by upgrading to a system that allows you to delegate emergencies to relevant individuals. If you know the specific staff assigned to maintain and repair the servers, no one else should be getting server-related alerts if an emergency occurs. Additionally, your system should be intelligent enough that once a critical team member responds to the initial notification, it doesn’t continue to send out additional repetitive alerts.
After-action Reviews That Don’t Lead to Change
After-action reviews aren’t simply a meeting to feel self-important. These are critical event recaps that have to take place. You need to know why the emergency occurred, the individual(s) or teams that were required to fix the solution, the response timeline, and the solution that was finally implemented to correct the problem. But if after-action reviews are either not happening, or serve as a placeholder event that never leads to positive changes, this isn’t a good thing.
These meetings are important because they allow you to engage in an unbiased review of current processes and protocols. In some cases, you may feel that nothing needs to change. But, if during an emergency, your team had to find innovations beyond existing processes to fix a problem, that’s a sign that it might be time for some changes.
To properly engage in an after-action review, your team should understand that these meetings are not only unbiased but that all constructive voices are welcome. If your team doesn’t feel like their voices are heard or supported, no one will speak up when glaring problems arise. Additionally, upper management needs to be willing to take action if the feedback indicates this is necessary.
Don’t Let Poor Communication Impact Your P&L Sheets
Disjointed emergency response strategies aren’t just about opting for ineffective solutions to fix a problem. It starts with mismanaged communication protocols that rely on redundant behaviors, manual triggers, and delegation confusion. To avoid harming your business’ profitability, you need a reliable solution that consolidates communication through a centralized program that leverages automation to speed up response times.
HipLink is an emergency management and communication solution that works to streamline your operations by connecting disparate legacy systems as well as improving communications through a customizable platform. Find out how HipLink can improve emergency response times for your IT department.