As this is the final stage of the 4-R service approach, it is fitting to close the circle on how I got onto this track of thinking. In a previous post I had reiterated a situation I experienced while working from home one day, where a tree fell on the wires in my front yard. The utility went through the first 3 steps of the 4-R service approach and completed the remediation. This, however, is not the end of the story. Also, check out 4-R service approach part 1, part 2, and part 3 articles.
While the utility completed their response plan and validated that the services were available, their plan ended there. The fourth step in the service approch approach fell to me, in this case the consumer of the services. If I were the IT department of an organization utilizing cloud-based services, this is also likely where the cloud provider would terminate their responsibilities.
There was still another stage yet to complete: Recover.
Stage four in the service approach, Recover deals not with the return of services to the consumer, but with the return to Normal State. Beyond active services, all manner of clean up tasks need to be completed. They include:
- Reinstate – The comparison of remediated state to Normal state, with acceptance by all parties involved. This phase includes the return of all resources to the pre-failure state.
- Evaluate – Review of the event in order to determine if it’s a repetitive or potentially repetitive event, what the impact of the event (external costs) were, and what the costs of the event and services were (inward costs).
- Learn – take away lessons from the event response and remediation stages, how efficiencies can be built into the workflows, and what if any adjustments to the Normal State are necessary.
Visually, this looks like:
Reinstating the Normal State consists of internal steps and tasks required to bring the service back to its pre-failure state. For example, the return to availability of any resources utilized in the process to respond and remediate the event and its impacts. This is also the appropriate time to ensure acceptance by all parties that the services provided met the requirements from both a contractual and customer satisfaction perspective. If gained, then the customer can be fully returned to Normal Status.
Once back in Normal State (so any interim issues are addressed in the standard fashion), it is time to evaluate the event and its impacts. Of particular interest is determining if the event was a one-time anomaly or a potentially reoccurring event. If the event could repeat, additional measures should be considered to lessen impacts or costs. Measure the impacts to the consumer, and the costs internally, to return them to Normal State. These metrics will enable you to create a value statement on potential changes to the current policies and methodologies utilized in response to these events.
Learning from the event, and applying that knowledge in a meaningful way, rounds out the Recover stage. Look at lessons-learned from the event and try to apply them to your overall process. Build efficiencies in any of the previous 3 stages. Any improvements in one of those stages will have a trickle-down effect in the successive stages. Lastly, be prepared to adjust the Normal State. Always be willing to change your approach at the core of the services model if they will be mutually beneficial to your organization and your consumers.
The Recover stage in my particular event consisted of these three phases. Once the utility left, I had to reinstate my front yard by removing the branches and limbs they cut to enable them to complete rehanging of the lines and having a professional tree service cut down the rest of the tree.
After that, I had to evaluate the possibility of other trees in that area also falling on the wire and make cost/impact decisions on whether to have them removed or cut back. I balanced the costs of tree removal against losing power and possibly damaging the house.
What did I learn from this experience? Well, I now look at the trees that are close to the wires more frequently to see if any are damaged or dying. I have purchased a chainsaw of my own to remove what I can safely, thus reducing my potential impacts and lowering my costs for tree removal. And, I installed better wire anchors on my house to prevent the wires from coming loose quite as easily.
Oh, I still have my dog, but that is another story…