A hallmark of a resilient enterprise in today’s complex, hybrid work environment is its ability to respond to critical events in a timely and effective manner. Because we don’t know exactly what might happen in the future – what challenges, what events, or what opportunities – building or developing a resilient organization should be a top priority of leaders in every enterprise.
Resilience is supported – or hindered – by several organizational factors, including:
- Policies and procedures
- Backup systems or system redundance
- Attitudes and preparation of management and staff
Policies and Procedures
The policies and procedures define the enterprise’s many functions that must be part of its response to any emerging situation or incident. Since it is not practical to accurately predict the exact nature of a critical event, these policies and procedures must focus on the highest priority functions of the enterprise with as few assumptions as possible regarding the security systems and infrastructure that will be available to it if that event should happen. Preparing for the worst cases is almost always a useful policy if it encourages broad thinking about what scenarios may occur and thinking through how the organization would respond.
For many enterprises, it’s a challenge to ensure that its local systems and infrastructure can be resilient in the presence of critical events without significant investments in redundant, non-collocated resources that may be expensive for many enterprises. Enterprises are becoming more dependent on shared systems and infrastructure to provide even critical functions. This has the obvious disadvantage that the enterprise itself can’t directly enhance the resilience of shared infrastructure. However, most of these shared resources are already more resilient than it is economically possible for most enterprises to implement on a local basis. Additionally, major shared infrastructure resources [e.g., power, internet service providers, and cloud service providers] offer the ability to provide enhanced resilience at incremental service costs.
When the infrastructure and policy are properly implemented, it’s the people present that can enable an enterprise to meet its obligations by responding to critical events.
Since people represent an extremely significant component of the resources that any enterprise requires to function, efforts to enhance the resilience of the enterprise’s people must represent a significant aspect of its efforts to improve its organizational resilience.
To align the actions and goals of the enterprise’s systems, policies, and people takes coordination. And coordination, in turn, requires not only a clear awareness of the situation confronting the team, but also the ability to communicate direction and status clearly and quickly to all the relevant parties, both inside the team and outside the team if necessary. Many larger enterprises prepare a command center where incoming information is centralized, and decisions and directions can be communicated to all concerned, including mass notifications and links to local authorities. This command location can itself be a single location, or distributed to several locations as the need indicates. Comprehensive training helps everyone understand their roles in emergencies, and periodic refreshers help everyone build confidence.
Bringing it Together
As an example of how a large, distributed organization can improve resiliency, we consider the 7thlargest school district in California, which has 60 schools with approximately 50,000 students and over 4500 employees. They recognized that they needed a powerful security and operations solution that was able to increase situational awareness and minimize their response time to any unexpected events. Preplanning identified a number of possible events that their new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) might need to handle, including children that had gone missing, dangerous situations such as disgruntled parents on the premises, property damage such as vandalism or theft, and more.
After a review of possible solutions, they chose Maxxess InSite to provide private, two-way, managed messaging and situational awareness. The solution leverages the power of smart mobile devices to maintain comprehensive communications, and emergency management operations provide a trusted messaging system between the school administration and its people. The trusted communications not only enable the people to respond to the enterprise’s needs, but also help the enterprise to respond to the people’s needs as well.
The new system was designed to support response coordination by broadcasting mass notifications to quickly monitor staff status, communicate with staff members in an organized manner, and help first responders communicate effectively. The system also provided enhanced situational awareness by allowing emergency messages to automatically transmit GPS location to activate the closest camera view for responders. The school district also made use of the InSite system simulation tools to create training scenarios to help everyone understand the system and become familiar with its features and performance.
A Resilient Enterprise
A resilient enterprise is more likely to be able to handle unexpected events. To build up resilience, review the four key elements mentioned above, and strengthen any that do not meet your minimum standards. This is just the process the example school system pursued, and they were able to create procedures, implement infrastructure, and then train the necessary people to create a resilient enterprise.