Writing Sample: Software

Incident Management Software

Larger organizations, with multiple locations, are at risk of incidents lowering their efficiency due to localized reporting systems, which are unstandardized, incomplete, and incapable of producing a comprehensive perspective. Incident Management Software collects standardized data from the whole organization to analyze incidents, run comprehensive reports, and prevent similar incidents from occurring, thereby, increasing the efficiency of the company, as a whole.

Incidents are those events that interfere with the efficiencies of processes set in place. An incident can be anything from someone slipping on a wet floor to a server crashing. It is an unplanned event that causes delays, workflow change, and increased costs to return to normal operations.

For example, if someone slips on a wet floor this will lead to personnel being diverted from their daily tasks to clean up the spill and ensure the person who slipped is taken care of. This event is not part of normal day-to-day operations and could lead to litigation or risk to the company’s reputation.

Incident Management is the process of identifying, categorizing, prioritizing, responding, escalating, managing, documenting, analyzing, and correcting incidents. Contingency plans, disaster plans, and procedures in case of incidents, all fall under the purview of this department. It is their responsibility to understand what happened, why it happened, and how to avoid it from happening again. To ensure a comprehensive understanding of incidents and potential risks to the organization, efficient Incident Management teams use centralized data collection and management software.

Incident Management Software provides companies with a complete picture of incidents and exposure across the whole of the organization, along with data to reduce risk. When every department of a company documents incidents using standardized reporting, kept within a centralized secure database, the data can be mined to understand what occurred, observe trends and predict future risk.

For example: A point of sale terminal crashes and causes a delay in the customer’s check out experience. An incident report is filed into an organization wide Incident Management Software program. It includes what happened and how the terminal was fixed.

The incident management team runs a daily report and discovers that point of sale terminals have crashed in five store locations, but only one store was able to get the terminal working again. Upon further analysis, the team discovers that these five locations were built at the same time and the point of sale terminals were ordered from vender ABC during this time. From this information the incident team can create a contingency plan for all similar point of sale terminals, outlining how to get them up and running again.

They can also analyze whether it is more cost efficient to replace the terminals or to train each store on how to fix the problem if it occurs.

Data Collection

Incident Management Software is dependent on the data reported and entered into the system. Considering each incident has it’s own story, it is important that the reports be as complete as possible. Information attached to each incident can be in the form of written reports, photos, video, and mapping. Accurate forecasting, incident prevention, and mitigation of litigation (CYA), requires as much detailed information as possible.

Training on-site employees and using standardized reporting procedures will ensure a complete story with valuable information to help identify trends, future risks and other hot spots within the organization. To ensure the data is as complete and accurate as possible, create standardized forms to aid employees to report the necessary data. Some questions to include in the form are:

  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Who was involved?
  • How was the incident resolved?
  • Who witnessed the incident?
  • Were there injuries?
  • Who was injured and how?

Training on-site personnel to know what to look for, how to fill out the report, and to be factual instead of emotional, will aid in ensuring the data is as authentic and transparent as possible. The human element in data collection can muddy the waters, as perception, assumption, and experience lead to miscommunication of facts and unreliable data. Emotional reports, conjecture, and blaming will cloud the incident with unnecessary information and important details may be lost, so training throughout the data cycle is a vital key to any Incident Management System.

Collecting information and storing it in a centralized database will aid other departments, especially if any legal or compliance issues arise from the incident. Legal, regulatory, compliance, or public opinion ramifications of the event, will determine which departments need access to the information. Enabling critical departments to access data easily through an Incident Management Software program will save time, answer questions, and provide a full picture of the incident to protect the company or mitigate liability.

Security of Data

When assessing Incident Management Software programs ensure your company’s need for the security of data is being met. Compliance with governances, both corporate and public, is an important component of any system to decrease risk to the organization, safeguard against litigation and meet regulatory requirements.

Not all Incident Management Software programs use the same security measures, so it is important to ensure the system is in line with an organization’s security protocols. A centralized data collection program manages the risks of data security by ensuring data stays on a secure server and is not stored on vulnerable hardware devices that can be lost or stolen. A system that enables access to a secured server, without downloading data onto the user’s device, and upon logging out, leaves a clean remote terminal, enables security of the data.

A program should be able to limit the amount of data users can access based on their need to know within the company. Determine who inside the company needs to access what types of data and adjust the administrative security levels for each user.

Protection of data is vital in today’s world and ensuring the program you choose for you company will meet your safety requirements, is paramount.

Other factors to consider

A system that collects data needs to be flexible to meet the future needs of the company. Whether it’s new regulatory legislation that must be met, a company grows, or changes it’s direction, a system that can be customized to meet future needs, is a long-term consideration.

Each corporation has unique requirements. A software system that can meet these needs with in-house integrated modules designed to fit together and build an all-encompassing solution will provide a greater level of efficiency and analytical data reporting as information from more areas of the operation are easily accessible for analysis.

When assessing a new software system, compare the learning curve and ease of integration into your organization. Establish whether a system can integrate into your current system and workforce with little disruption. Take into account training, hardware upgrades, hiring needs and disruption to current systems when comparing Software providers. A user-friendly program that works within the parameters of your IT department will require less capital investment to upgrade resources. An easy to use program will have all users up and running quickly with minimal extra capital.

Partner with a provider that will work with you to develop a solution that will meet your requirements, solve your data needs, and continue to ensure your success.

Incidents are a reality of business, however, they can be managed to reduce the number of occurrences, thereby, saving time and money over the whole organization. Incident Management Software enables companies to analyze data associated with incidents to proactively put measures in place to avoid future incidents from occurring. The return on investment of a program that works within the framework of the company and provides the necessary security perimeters is easily measured by the increased efficiency of the whole organization.

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Shannon Peel is a marketing professional seeking out opportunities in the Vancouver, BC area. She is also the author of three novels, Thirteen, 40 Something, Captive.

For more information check out her website.www.shannonpeel.com