With the realization that an event has occurred, the next step toward a return to normal state is to respond to that event. Responding is the first interaction between the service provider and the consumer/customer entity. Whether that entity is your internal staff, your customer base, or another provider is immaterial to the fact that a response is necessary.
Responding to an event should be looked at as a potential for success instead of a reaction to failure. With the complexities inherent in today’s delivery and consumption of IT services, each opportunity to respond should be an opportunity to show the value of your services.
Within Respond, there are three categories of action.
Acknowledge – Event handling responsibility definition
Communicate – Visibility to all parties involved in the
event and response
Plan – Creation of response with contingency planning
Visually, this looks like:
Acknowledgement is an internal function that allows the service provider to begin their response workflow. Assuming the event has been realized (See Part 1) and confirmed, then the provider will need to move the event forward via evaluation. The key concept here is to always move the event forward in the process. A stagnant event will result in missed SLAs and negatively impact consumer/customer satisfaction. Another
impact to a stagnant event is to the responding staff – delays early in the Respond cycle will create internal thrash and conflict. As the event proceeds through the response workflow, assign responsibilities along the way. An event should always have at least one responsible party directly attached to it.
After the acknowledgement of the event you should move onto the first externally facing task: communication. Communication is
both an internal and customer facing task, ensuring that all responsible parties are aware of the current event status and what is being done. All parties need to be in the communication stream, even if they do not have an immediate duty to complete. Full awareness also allows for accurate
forensic analysis of event handling. The concept of Visible Action is critical. Visible Action indicates that all efforts that are being undertaken have a forward progress component and are visible to the customer. A customer blind to the efforts being conducted in the background is a customer who thinks nothing is being done.
Planning is the final component of Respond. How will the provider proceed in handling the event? What actions and tools are required, and how will the various responsible parties be coordinated? When during the event is it appropriate to escalate? The plan should include all steps considered necessary to move the event through the Remediate and Recover phases. The level of detail will be wholly dependent on the complexity of the event and the amount of coordination required (say for internal and 3rd party responders). Where a project plan may have milestones for evaluation of progress, this type of plan should have “turning points” defined to demonstrate achievement.
As you progress through the Respond phase, remember that momentum is the key element here. Even if you do not have an answer or solution, the fact that you are taking action and making progress needs to be communicated AND visible to all involved. Be progressive with an eye towards the next phase: Remediate.