IT deals with problems large and small each day. How well these problems are handled depends on how well the IT team is prepared to deal with them.
With proper problem management any problem or issue can be dealt with in a timely manner to ensure the continuity of IT services the business depends on.
An emergency room is a good example of a team that deals with large and small problems each day. They often work under extreme pressure since lives are at stake. So let’s look at how an ER handles problems that roll through the door each day and learn how their methods can be applied to the IT world.
How An Emergency Room and IT Can Stay Prepared
Have a Plan
An ER has a plan to deal with nearly every issue that comes up. When the issue comes through the door they know exactly what to do and the team executes the plan. IT has disaster recovery plans, but we should not only plan for disaster.
Small issues can have an impact on IT services and a well laid out plan will allow you to quickly restore them. Many fly by the seat of their pants when dealing with problems. Relying on their experience and expertise to deal with it. You should be proactive in approaching a crisis or problem management.
What happens when the help desk receives a call about a problem and vital team members are not there? Running up and down the halls trying to find someone to deal with it, that is what happens. With a well thought out and detailed plan everyone maintains composure and the problem is dealt with in a timely manner.
Sometimes in an ER an issue can roll in the door that there is no plan for. Something nobody ever anticipated. This is when they rely on their past experience to guide them. In the same way you can rely on your past experience to guide you through an unforeseen issue.
These are the times when you do fly by the seat of your pants, but you should have a well-trained team that is multifunctional and well skilled to help you. This is the time for your A-Team.
Be Well Stocked
Look in any modern ER and they have the supplies and tools needed to deal with every issue that can come through the door. Carts sitting in designated areas and teams of qualified staff are always ready to deal with nearly any problem.
IT should be prepared in much the same way. Important pieces of equipment needed to restore IT services should be ready for use when needed. Qualified and skilled staff should always be on-hand and ready to deal with any problem.
If your network goes down can your business really wait hours or worse days for the needed equipment to arrive?
Have a Well Skilled and Professional Team
The staff in an ER consists of many professionals with the specific skills needed to handle any issue. Nurses, technicians, doctors and many more skilled team members. Each one knows their job well, when to step in and when to get out-of-the-way.
In the same way IT should have teams with various skills ready to jump into action when an issue arises. The makeup of the team and the skills needed will depend on the issue. This is why planning is so important. You want to know the right people to contact that have the skills needed to get the job done.
IT Triage The Help Desk
When a patient first comes to the ER they are seen by a triage nurse. Here the patient is evaluated to determine the severity of their issue. A chart is created, vital signs are taken and any relevant information about the issue is recorded. A priority is then assigned depending on how severe the issue is.
In IT triage is done by the help desk. Their goal is to learn and document everything they can about the issue and determine the priority of the issue. Once this is done the proper person or team can be notified to handle the issue.
- Determine what the problem is and document all the circumstances surrounding the problem.
- Determine how critical the problem is. This will decide how quickly it must be dealt with.
- Route the problem to the department, team or person who can best deal with it.
Putting It All Together
- Detailed steps to be taken to deal with the problem and restore full service
- One or more designated leaders with contact information who will oversee the execution of the plan and alternatives should they be unavailable.
- A list of team members needed to execute the plan with contact information and alternatives should they be unavailable.
- A list and contact information of outside vendors and technical contacts who can provide information if needed.
- A good supply of inventory that can be used to fix any problem that may arise.
- Detailed instructions on how to setup and install the equipment or bring back the service.
- Plan alternatives should the primary plan not fix the issue.
- A review session after an issue to see what went right, what went wrong and how the plan can be improved.
Any issue can best be dealt with if there is already a plan in place. A plan should include:
IT deals with major and minor problems each day just like an ER. An ER can respond to any problem that rolls through the door because they are well-trained, highly skilled and have a plan. Planning for problem large and small will restore IT services quicker and with less disruption to the business.
Plans should have detailed steps, designated contacts and alternatives with contact information. Equipment should me maintained on-site to enable teams to quickly restore vital services.
Nanna Moilanen says
It was a very interesting post about IT relating to ER 🙂 yes, I can totally agree with that. Personally I have described it as firefighting…putting out fires here and there. Firefighting is unplanned, yet structured way to manage all sorts of problems, big or small.
Right now I work in a company that develops software for IT support, that in my opinoin has potential to change the industry. What if you could get a a detailed preview of a set of problems delivered to your ticketing system (e.g. email) that allows you to identify, prevent and fix IT issues faster and more efficiently? Would that kind of product be industry changing? And as a bonus, it would be possible to offer a high margin “computer health check” service to companies and consumers alike?
I dont want to sound like Im advertising or selling this product… but would appreciate comments and feedback about it so that we could improve it and make it even more useful for the IT support people.
Thanks for reading my comments.