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Empowering the Executive team to Maintain Key Controls During a Major IT Incidents


How a Major Business Disruption was the Catalyst for Formalising the Major Incident Management Process, Structuring Communications and Empowering the Executive Team to Gain Control During Major Business Disruptions

While a major Transport Agency was still in its infancy as a new organisation, a recent and significant IT-related service disruption had highlighted the need to formalise how major Incidents were managed across the transport cluster. Kirk Penn from Service Management Specialists was engaged to develop a single enterprise major incident management process.

The new process provided a single way to respond, restore & recover in the event of a Major IT Incident occurring. The Transport agency IT group supported over 30,000 internal staff, including hundreds of complex systems. A major incident was deemed as a serious priority one. While the existing day-to-day standard incident management process worked well for P2 – P4 Incidents, when major disruptions occurred, the challenge was reflected and left with the inability to cope.

The goal of getting everyone to follow a single way of working under pressure, amidst competing operational priorities, was a complex task. Kirk established a cross-agency major Incident working group which communicated the goal of the initiative outlining the agreed sponsorship and overall implementation plan. He developed a strawman major incident communications model and approach. The model clarified specific inputs and triggers, roles and responsibilities. It included communication guidelines, along with the rules and governance for the technical and management conference bridges during a major incident. He drafted a policy and process, developing a simplified one-page overview for each of the role types involved within the MIM process – these acted as quick reference guide for each stakeholder to understand what to do during each phase of the MIM process.

Senior management were briefed and a significant rollout campaign, which included simulations, was undertaken to ensure all stakeholders were clear on exactly how they contributed in the event of a major incident being invoked. The major incident management process was endorsed and implemented, and it remains a stable and valuable capability within the transport agency IT group.

As a result, the transport for NSW IT leadership gained confidence and endorsed further investment into resources and the centralisation of the MIM function. In addition, as part of the ongoing continuous improvements, a version of the MIM communication model has also been adopted for management of P2 incidents. This has provided an increased level of controls with lower priority incidents and reducing the probability of these becoming major incidents.

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