Is an Incident Management System Right for Your Organization?

This is the third in our four-part series, “Incident Management Systems: A Business Continuity Program Game-Changer.”  The goal of the series is to help business continuity practitioners better understand the role of incident management software so they can evaluate how these tools might help boost program effectiveness. In the previous article we attempted to separate myth from fact in terms of what Crisis/Incident Management (C/IM) systems do and who can benefit from them. Here we will help you assess if a C/IM system is right for your organization.

Most organizations with established or even nascent business continuity programs can benefit from deploying an incident management system.

To assess the value for your particular organization, it helps to answer these four questions:

  1. How effective is your current program?
  2. How frequently do you activate your business continuity plans?
  3. Are you in an industry that faces regulatory oversight?
  4. Could you use the tools for both routine events and emergencies?

How Effective is Your Current Incident Program?

If you don’t know how to answer this question, that should be a red flag. Mature business continuity programs have key performance metrics in place and are able to rate each test exercise or actual event in terms of compliance to the prescribed event plan, speed of task execution, effectiveness of communication and speed/success of issue resolution.

If your organization doesn’t track success, doesn’t perform test exercises or just isn’t satisfied with the results, then you could definitely benefit from an incident management system.

How Frequently Do You Activate Your Business Continuity Plans?

On average MissionMode Readiness Survey respondents activate their business continuity plans more than 40 times a year with weather, IT and power outages occurring with the greatest frequency.

How often you use your plans may be a function of how many different event types you have planned for. The top 10 most commonly planned events include:

  • Severe Weather
  • IT Outage/Breach
  • Power Outage
  • Natural Disaster
  • Physical Violence
  • Fire
  • Epidemic
  • Product Quality
  • Scandal/Reputation Crisis
  • Theft

The more active your business continuity program, the more benefit you will experience by employing an incident management system. Similarly, organizations with a wide variety and number of team members using a C/IM system will see significant gains in process standardization and compliance with BC plans.

Does Your Industry Face Regulatory Oversight

Transportation, construction, healthcare and utilities are just a few examples of industries with a heavy burden of regulatory reporting. It is no coincidence that this corresponds well with the list cited earlier of incident management system heavy users. That is because C/IM systems dramatically simplify the task of collecting, storing and sharing required operational logs which include both activity and alert reporting.

An incident management system tracks and time stamps all activity and communications. This information can be shared internally and with regulatory agencies as needed. It can be archived for future retrieval as needed. Automating the task of creating required operational logs is huge time-saver for organizations with this sort of regulation in place.

Incident Management System for Routine Operations

Many organizations that adopt C/IM systems for emergency management purposes find that these systems can be highly beneficial for routine operations management as well.

For instance, companies with SLA’s that require operational reporting find incident management systems very useful. Similarly, organizations with multiple shifts throughout the day find that these systems reduce the need for time-consuming handoffs during shift changes. For teams that are geographically dispersed, C/IM systems can help keep all team members up to speed on project status. This can be especially helpful for global project teams that may have both language and time zone barriers. When assessing the value of a C/IM system for your organization, consider both the crises you need to be prepared to manage as well as the day-to-day activities that might benefit from a more systematic approach.

Next in our series, “Incident Management Systems: A Business Continuity Program Game-Changer”, we will help you understand how to evaluate the various C/IM options and determine which would be the best fit for your needs. To learn more, download the full white paper or request a demo.