I responded to a media inquiry recently looking for tips on managing tech issues in the office–especially during an IT crisis. I was lucky enough to have some of my thoughts included in an article for CIO.com.
Also, it always makes you feel good when an award-wining writer for a well known publication decides your thoughts are worth sharing, so I’m paying that good feeling forward by sharing my tips boiled down to three important steps in any IT Crisis.
Assess and Isolate Tech Issues In The Office
Isolate impacted systems (especially in the case of a malware/ransomware incident) and take inventory of what is affected while taking immediate action to limit any further impact (don’t start to resolve the issue, just focus on keeping it from getting any larger).
Map the impacted systems into business processes; know exactly how the incident impacts the business’ ability to serve its clients. Don’t assume – a ‘crisis’ in the IT department doesn’t always impact the business in a way that leadership really cares about. In that case, you have some time for remediation.
On the contrary, a ‘simple’ issue from an IT providers perspective may have a huge impact on the business. Be sure you know the business side of the incident so you can respond properly.
Develop a quick battle plan to address the issue but be realistic and patient with the recovery. Generally, there is a rush to resolve issues – this approach is not effective and will leave you with a huge mess to clean up. Although understandable, the ‘do something no matter what it costs’ approach is short-sighted and, in many cases, results in a longer recovery time.
For example, let’s say your server fails but your business is still up and running on a standby server with lackluster performance – the result of an automatic fail-over. The ‘quick fix’ would be to order and install a new server; however, this solution has a slow turnaround time which may result in more issues.
If you are patient and realistic in addressing the issue, the most effective plan would be to get the original server fixed. Once that is completed, you will be able to fail-back to a known working platform.
Communicate fully, openly and clearly with all parties exactly what happened and the plan for remediation. During a crisis, it is not the time to defer blame or cover up shortcomings.
Leadership needs to feel confident that you understand the business impact and are working diligently to resolve the issue. If you start making excuses about what caused the issue or pointing fingers this will completely erode confidence.
Regular and ongoing communication is the key. Be sure the affected parties get regular updates even if no progress is being made.
Jennifer Schiff combined some of my thought along with others in her recent article; 8 Ways To Manage An Internet or Security Crisis. Definitely worth a read.
Of course, having the right IT Services company at your side can be a big help too.