Why the incident is not critical but communication is


Working within service operation is a 24×7 task – never knowing when an incident will happen and how it will affect your business. One thing you do know is that your businesses will ‘hang-you-high’ if you can’t manage the communication around the incident. It is probably not your fault that an incident occurs and business owners will understand that, but if you don’t give them the right level of communication and take the right action, they will definitely blame you.

So what do you do? Start simply by making a communication strategy and asking yourself who your audience is? You will probably come up with 2-5 different stakeholder groups that you need to keep up-to-date during an incident resolution process – each of whom will require tailored information, distributed differently and at varying times. Your communication plan should take into consideration a number of potential scenarios, e.g. what communication is needed if a priority incident 1 occurs or if the email is down? Complications can occur, especially if you work in a global company where everyone doesn’t need or doesn’t want to know about everything. Your strategy will provide you with an overview that will help you improve your communication.

You will likely identify different business owners, business users, IT managers and ‘resolver’ teams with varying needs. Start with the largest group of people – the business users. The easiest way to communicate with this group, and other sometimes unidentified users, is to guide them to a webpage where information is published. This is in line with how many companies choose to communicate with their end users, such as phone companies or service distribution companies. If you create a dashboard type of page, you can easily update it with the latest information about incidents, where it happened and what it impacted. Keeping it up to date will help establish a good relationship with your business users.

Business owners and IT managers can probably get the same information. But they want to know a.s.a.p. and not have to find it out for themselves, which is why they need to be informed in a more active way. SMS followed up by email is the quickest way to do this. The initial communication sent by SMS makes the stakeholders aware of an ongoing incident and directs them to places where they can get more information. This is suitable for initial communication but not for ongoing progress: you also need a common channel, such as email, where a full description of the incident can be found. The email should be sent as quickly as possible after the incident and then be followed by an update at least every 2 hours.

Channels included in the strategy are internal social networks and any IT service management tool that you are using. Both of these may be seen as information for technical staff and will probably not be used by the normal user or business owner. The IT service management tool should be used to generate the information and always be the source of all information. The best results are achieved when you use a combination of communications channels, customised information and timing.

About the author

Related Articles

The commitment risk – When IT outsourcing exposes shadow processes and loyal heroes

Operations, Risk Management, Sourcing

People working for a certain company tend to grow very committed to it. They are prepared to walk the extra mile to boost company success. In IT, it…

Impacts of the General Data Protection Regulation: Why starting now is essential to reach compliance

Assurance & Compliance

The European General Data Protection Regulation to be adopted in 2018 represents the most significant change to data protection in the EU since 1995. The regulation will require organisations to review their practices and to ensure compliance, it is imperative to get started.

Interview with Tony Davis, author of “Agile & PRINCE2: The best of both worlds”

Change Management

Interview with Tony Davis, author of “Agile & PRINCE2: The best of both worlds” outlining how Scrum or other agile approaches can fit within a Prince2 governance structure. Here, Tony goes into some of the practical issues and pitfalls companies often face when implementing agile methodologies.

Using governance, risk and compliance systems to deliver business benefits

Assurance & Compliance, Governance, Risk Management

Governance, risk and compliance systems are getting more and more attention on management and board level. Companies and organisations are struggling to manage governance, risk and compliance in…

The folly of framework implementations

Change Management, Operations

Companies are struggling to become more agile to adapt to ever-changing and evolving customer requirements. Within IT, the solution is often to implement a new way of working based…