5 Factors for Building an Information Foundation
Companies should consider five major factors when compiling and organizing all of their components into one repository and dashboard that integrates information from multiple sources into a unified display, an approach we view as a “single pane of glass.”
1. Knowledge Must Be Consolidated
We have all seen enterprise companies where no one had an understanding of what others in the business did. IT has no clue what the sales is doing, and sales doesn’t know much of what is happening in product development, and so on. People’s knowledge is limited strictly to the work they do on a daily basis. And that can lead to a myriad of problems.
If there is little to no interdepartmental communication, what will happen when a disaster – manmade or natural – strikes? It will be every department for itself; recovery and continuity efforts will almost certainly elongate or possibly fail due to a complete lack of coordination. Knowledge is power, as the old adage goes. When it comes to maintaining a streamlined and secure company, it is imperative all stakeholders have full knowledge of operations so that they can respond to any need across the organization with confidence.
The processes undertaken by an enterprise on a daily basis can number in the hundreds. It is nearly impossible to maintain organizational knowledge without a single repository where all of these processes can be viewed.
2. Command and Control
Executives never want to feel they have lost control of a potentially damaging situation. Nothing can be accomplished in the face of a disaster if leadership doesn’t have command over the events that are unfolding. Proactive planning and a firm grasp on every piece of information needed makes for the best chance at a full recovery in the least amount of time possible.
It is important to possess a software solution that pulls all of the necessary processes into that all-important single pane of glass, so everyone involved in the response has access to the most up-to-date information to efficiently execute a plan.
3. Visualization and Decision Support
There are many cases in which there are no clear and actionable steps for addressing a disaster. Businesses can choose to prepare for a potential recovery using either data (knowledge) or documents (plans). It is inefficient, ineffective, expensive, and risky to rely on documents when success versus failure can lie in the balance. Visualization and decision support can serve as a force multiplier for your teams while documents can slow you down and cause you to make costly mistakes and possibly even outright fail.
A living, virtual system can digest this information and update data in real time so that processes are always current and easily accessible. The ability to use that information to provide visual insights and deep analysis can materially change not only the effectiveness and efficiency of your teams but also the outcomes you achieve. In the face of a threat, an enterprise needs to able to immediately contact key decisionmakers, review all assets, and determine which locations have been affected. People need to be able to trust this information and make decisions in real-time. In other words, they can generate a reliable plan on the fly or be confident that existing plans are utilizing current information while filtering out information that is not relevant to the situation at hand.
4. Enable Wisdom
Steve Jobs once said, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” That is the essence of organizational knowledge. If all processes are known and accessible by every executive and employee within a company, the likelihood of recovering when a disaster strikes is much greater.
Everyone involved in a business should be able to easily view best practices and know how to implement them in the face of a threat. When stakeholders can find all of the most up-to-date information via one pane of glass, they are much more likely to educate themselves on policies across all departments and gain that all-important wisdom – not just knowledge.
Some people might see wisdom and knowledge as interchangeable. However, that isn’t the case. Knowledge by itself simply refers to information that has been acquired – it is awareness. Wisdom, meanwhile, is experience and the ability to convert acquired information into action. When we talk about “organizational knowledge,” it is really a combination of both concepts.
5. Vulnerabilities are Endless. Resources are Not.
Try as we might, it is impossible to identify, let alone plan for, every disaster that might befall an organization. You cannot solve them all, so you must prioritize.
Say you come up with 20 different scenarios in which your company is at risk. Some will inevitably be more likely to occur than others. It is important to determine which have the highest probability of occurring and which will have the most impact on your organization should they occur and use that information as your guide.
Every enterprise, no matter the size, has limited resources to dedicate to its business continuity efforts. The threats that have the highest probability of occurring, along with the highest potential impact, are obviously the ones that will require the most attention and planning. It can be viewed as a simple line graph that helps you determine how to delegate time, money, and staff.
Read more of John's thoughts on organizational knowledge in Corporate Risk and Insurance.