Incident Management System: A Start-to-Finish Guide in 2019

Incident Management System: A Start-to-Finish Guide in 2019

In our last post, we shared a compact guide to choosing the right incident management software for your company, business or organization. Building on that, we wanted to offer a complete overview of incident management systems, including what they are, how they work and the benefits that they can offer.

In this post, we’re presenting a complete start-to-finish guide to incident management systems in 2019. Our aim for is to give you a complete overview of these systems and explain how they help organizations of all sizes save time, keep their employees safe and boost revenue.

In this start-to-finish guide, we’ll cover the following areas

  1. What is an Incident Management System?
  2. Types of incidents explained
  3. Why invest in an Incident Management System?
  4. Key advantages of Incident Management Systems
  5. Taking your next steps

Let’s go!

1. What is an Incident Management System?

An incident management system is any system that helps an organization respond to, manage or prevent any incidents that occur on their premises or that affect their staff or customers.

The system should cover the following five factors:

  1. Procedures
  2. Software
  3. Communication systems
  4. Equipment
  5. Personnel

These five factors are a critical part of a company’s incident management system, regardless of whether it is paper-based, electronic, or a hybrid system.

Let’s look at them in greater detail:

1. Procedures
The backbone of any incident management system is a list of procedures that staff must follow in the event of an incident, accident, or event.

Traditionally, incident management systems have been paper-based collections of handwritten or printed documents that are filed and stored.

In Australia, most small businesses create a written document called a Safety Statement. This document outlines how the business plans to minimize risk on their premises. It will cover the control measures and risk assessments that need to be conducted to ensure that staff and contractors remain as safe as possible at all times.

While this method of procedure documentation may be referred to as paper-based, documents may be typed on MS Word or Excel and stored electronically, or printed out and stored as hard copies for safekeeping.

2. Software
Many companies utilize incident management software to help them track, manage and respond to incidents as they occur. This software is available to, and used by, all members of the organization, from junior employees to senior stakeholders.

The software is used to:

  • Report incidents.
  • Respond to specific situations.
  • Resolve problems as they occur.

The main benefit of using incident management software is that all members of an organization are kept updated and informed about incidents in real-time.In the event of a physical incident, incident management software can notify the relevant stakeholders and suggest an appropriate workflow for responding to the incident. In the case of IT-related software, the software itself is able to initiate certain responses to problems, such as rebooting a server in the event of a crash, for example.

3. Communication systems
All companies need a communication system in place in order to implement their incident management system.

A communication system could include some or all of the following options:

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Instant messaging platforms
  • SMS

One of the advantages of investing in incident management software is that it provides a communication system for a company’s employees to use. Staff can use the software’s platform to keep in touch with each other and monitor incidents as they occur.

For example, when an incident happens, staff can use the incident management platform to file an incident report. The software then sends email and/or SMS notifications to other members of the organization and critical stakeholders, alerting them to the situation in real-time.

As all communications are in one place, the platform provides a holistic communication system for all members of the organization to use. They can track, monitor and resolve incidents along the way, through a variety of channels including messages, notifications, and updates.

4. Equipment
The fourth key factor in any incident management system is the equipment used by employees. This includes the physical devices used to access the incident management software (such as laptops and mobile devices) as well as any equipment required to deal with the incidents.

Common communication equipment includes:

  • Computers and laptops
  • Mobile devices
  • Handheld communication devices such as walkie-talkies

Most incident management software platforms have their own app designed to work with iOS and Android devices. This means that personnel can simply install the app on their work or personal mobile devices to gain access to the platform at their convenience.

5. Personnel
The fifth factor necessary for an incident management system to be effective is personal. This includes a company’s employees, but may also include contractors who must be trained to respond to incidents.

Employees must be trained to:

  • React to incidents
  • Understand the nature of various incidents
  • Follow the correct procedures when responding to incidents

To ensure that all employees work together in the event of an incident or emergency, the employer must provide comprehensive training. However, today’s incident management software is able to generate workflows for staff can follow. These are written procedures that help staff deal effectively with specific incidents.

Software-generated workflows help ensure that those who are first to respond to an incident have as much data as possible. They are better able to respond in the shortest amount of time and maintain effective communication during emergency situations.

2. Types of incidents explained

Now that we’ve looked at what an incident management system is, it’s time to turn our attention to the types of incidents that are commonly dealt with.

Incidents will tend to fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Physical incidents
  2. Environmental issues
  3. IT-related issues

Each of these four categories requires different types of responses, with different procedures.

1. Physical incidents
In this category, you’ll find general or community complaints, general illnesses among staff, and serious injuries or illnesses involving staff and contractors. This category also covers incidents such as fires, explosions, motor vehicle collisions, and near misses.

2. Environmental issues
This category covers damage to either the organization’s premises or equipment, loss of environmental containment (spills and leaks) and security breaches.

3. IT-related issues
IT-focused incident management software helps employees resolve IT issues such as using specific software, dealing with server failure, or other issues that lead to downtime. Unlike physical and environmental issues, IT-related issues can often be responded to automatically by the software. This may help resolve the incident without any human intervention. For example, if a company’s server crashes, incident management software may be able to restart the server to resolve the incident.

3. Why invest in an Incident Management System?

As we’ve shown, most organizations use paper-based incident management systems, built around Safety Statements to respond to and address incidents. So why would an organization invest in a software or cloud-based incident management system?

There are four main reasons why an organization would want to invest in improving or upgrading their incident management system:

  • Improving employee safety
  • Saving time
  • Minimizing risk
  • Maintaining and/or increasing profits

Improving employee safety
Well-designed incident management systems can give a company a powerful combination of data and communication tools that can help it respond to incidents faster. Potentially, this can save time and, in emergency situations, it may even save lives.

Saving time
The main benefit of having a software or cloud based system is that all communication channels are combined. Organizations that use incident management software can accomplish more in less time than if they were using a paper-based system. For example, incident reporting with a software-based system takes a fraction of the time of compiling a paper-based report.

Minimizing risk
Incident management systems help improve employee safety by giving a company real-time situational awareness. This helps ensure that employees receive the most appropriate support at the earliest opportunity, helping to prevent incidents from escalating.

Maintaining and/or increasing profits
In Australia, firms are legally responsible for reporting serious harm incidents to the relevant statutory authorities. Robust incident management systems can help automate this process, ensuring that the organization doesn’t fall foul of laws and become subject to fines that may adversely affect their profitability.

4. Key advantages of Incident Management Systems

A well-designed incident management system offers the following key advantages:

  1. Preparedness to deal with incidents
  2. Effective communication within an organization
  3. Increased safety for employees, clients, and contractors

To understand more about these key areas, we’ll look at each in more detail.

1. Preparedness to deal with incidents

One of the top advantages of a robust incident management system is that all employees are sufficiently prepared to deal with a wide range of incidents. In the event of an emergency, first responders will have a clear idea of any hazards they may encounter and will have been trained how to respond.

In addition to training, the incident management system will give employees the tools they need to deal with various scenarios. This may include interactive maps of the location, CCTV points, utility shut-off points, first-aid kit locations, and access points.

Using the incident management software platform, staff can report incidents and keep the entire organization aware of their actions in real-time. The platform enables other employees to offer guidance or advice and lets critical stakeholders see the specific actions that were taken and how the incident was resolved.

A key advantage of using incident management software is that it lets senior management retrospectively look at how past events unfolded. They can identify pain-points that prevented the issue from being resolved faster and find ways of improving response times in the future.

2. Effective communication within an organization

The second key advantage of having a well-designed incident management system in place is that it provides staff with effective communication channels at all times. All leading software platforms are cloud-based meaning they can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with internet access.

This ensures that incident reporting takes place in real-time, with all members of the organization able to track incidents as they occur.

The communication channels can be highly customized so staff can receive communication according to their preferences. This could include SMS messages, emails or push notifications, as they choose.

In an emergency situation, the incident management software provides a timeline of communications so that senior managers can track the flow of communications and see whether the incident was escalated or resolved, and how. This gives key personnel real-time situational awareness.

Some incident management software is able to act as an emergency notification system. This means it can be used to report emergency incidents such as fires or spills as soon as they occur. During an incident, the system will keep contact with all employees via a range of communication channels including voice, SMS messaging and email.

For example, in the event of an emergency situation, the first staff member on the scene could initiate contact with emergency operators, all via the incident management system’s platform. This reduces the response times of emergency services.

3. Increased safety for employees, clients, and contractors

The third key advantage of incident management systems is that risks to employee’s safety can be minimized and managed. Incident management software that offers a smartphone app provides employees with direct access to the incident platform at all times. If they notice a problem, see something suspicious or have any issues, they can alert their supervisors and senior managers with ease.

Some incident management software even lets employees called 911 or alert onsite security with the press of a button. This can ensure that critical data is delivered instantaneously and can help shorten response times.

5. Taking your next steps

This start-to-finish guide has explained everything you need to know about incident management systems in 2019.

While some organizations will continue to rely on basic safety statements and paper-based procedures, an increasing number of companies are choosing to adopt incident management software to facilitate their overall incident management system. The right software can help any organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace.

Contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!

The Compact Guide to Choosing Incident Management Software

The Compact Guide to Choosing Incident Management Software

Are you curious about how to choose the best incident management software for your organization?

If so, we’ve got you covered with this compact guide!

We’ll explain everything you need to know about how to choose the best incident management software for your company, business or organization.

Choosing the right software can be challenging, and, while investing in software can bring plenty of advantages, there are also plenty of traps and pitfalls to watch out for along the way.

So whether you’re a small business owner looking to improve the way you handle incidents, or you’re looking for a way to harmonize incident management procedures across multiple facilities, we’re here to help.

We’ll explain the benefits of the leading incident management software packages on the market today and show you the exact steps you need to follow in order to choose the best software for your needs.

In this compact guide, we’ll be discussing things like:

  • What is Incident Management Software?
  • Who needs Incident Management Software?
  • Types of Incident Management Software
  • What can Incident Management Software do?
  • Why is Incident Management Software important?
  • What to look for when choosing Incident Management Software
  • Taking your next steps

Sound fair? Then let’s go!

What is Incident Management Software?

Incident Management Software is any software that helps a company, business or organization record, manage and investigate any incidents that occur on their premises or involve their staff.

When an organization starts using incident management software, it will typically make the software available to employees via computers, smartphones, and tablets. As everyone has access to the same software, members of staff can report incidents as they occur. Senior stakeholders such as members of the management team can track how each incident is responded along the way.

Incident management software can help with:

  • Reporting incidents
  • Investigating incidents
  • Analyzing incidents
  • Taking proactive actions

Who needs Incident Management Software?

Incident management software is available for companies, businesses, and organizations across almost all work disciplines.

This includes fields in the following areas:

  • Safety
  • Environment
  • Quality assurance
  • Product quality
  • Business management
  • IT/DevOps

Organizations across almost every industry can benefit from having some form of incident management software.

Types of Incident Management Software

We can group incident management software into two main categories:

  • Incident management software for physical operations
  • Incident management software for IT/DevOps

Let’s look at both of these categories in greater detail!

Incident management software for physical operations

Many businesses are primarily concerned with physical incidents such as injuries, spills, and accidents that occur on their premises. Firms in the building and construction sectors and agricultural sectors will generally fall into this category. They need incident management software that helps them monitor when accidents take place and how to minimize the chances of similar incidents occurring in the future.

These organizations are generally less concerned with logging and dealing with IT-related incidents, however they may have separate incident management software for that purpose.

Incident management software for IT/DevOps

IT-focused incident management software is specifically designed to address IT challenges such as crashes and errors. Firms that invest in this type of software may be less concerned with logging physical incidents, although they may have separate software for that purpose.

IT-specific incident management software is used as part of an organization’s overall IT management strategy alongside identity management, mobile device management, and service desk solutions. This software can help automate tasks, reduce downtime, increase coloration and unify projects.

Let’s look in greater detail at how incident management software does this.

What can Incident Management Software do?

Incident Management Software, whether it is focused primarily on physical incidents or IT issues can help with the following tasks:

  1. Reporting incidents
  2. Investigating incidents
  3. Analyzing incidents
  4. Taking proactive actions

Let’s break these tasks down:

1. Reporting incidents

The main purpose of incident management software is to help an organization’s staff report incidents. Every organization, large or small, experiences incidents from time to time.

These could be categorized into one of three main groups:

  • Physical incidents
  • Environmental incidents
  • General incidents

Physical incidents include:

  • A near hit or miss
  • Staff/contractor injuries/serious illness
  • Fires
  • Explosions
  • Motor vehicle collision

Environmental incidents include:

  • Plant or equipment damage
  • Loss of environmental containment (spills/leaks)

General incidents include:

  • General complaints
  • Community complaints
  • Product withdrawal or recall

Incident management software helps organizations streamline the process whereby staff and contractors can report all of these types of incidents. With the incident management software platform shared among all staff and senior management, incidents can be logged in real-time.

Incident management software that focuses on IT/DevOps can help with reporting of:

  • Digital incidents and errors
  • Frequency of downtime and crashes

2. Investigating incidents

The second benefit of incident management software is that it helps an organization investigate any incidents that occur.

The incident management software platform contains a clear record of:

  • Where the incident occurred
  • Who witnessed and documented it
  • Any follow up actions that were taken

Incident management software can streamline the investigation process by giving access to all members of an organization.

However, IT/DevOps software can go one step further. It can not only alert staff of an incident with their company’s software or hardware, but it can automatically generate a report of the problem and initiate a workflow as well. This helps ensure that the error is responded to in the proper sequence and reduces the response time, helping to address the incident sooner.

3. Analyzing incidents

As we’ll explain in our upcoming start-to-finish guide on incident management systems, incident management software not only helps with reporting and investigating incidents. It also helps with analysis too.

For example, incident management software can track where incidents are occurring and notify senior management, prompting them to take action.

If a spate of incidents occurs in a particular location, specific safety precautions and procedures can be put in place to help manage the risk.

As we discussed, IT/DevOps software can automatically generate a report of the problem and create a workflow. This helps ensure that the error is responded to in the proper sequence. It also curbs the effects of major IT incidents by bringing the right information to the right people instantly, for faster response times.

4. Taking proactive actions

Incident management software used to report and log physical incidents will lead to faster response times. It can bring critical information to the right people to ensure that problems are dealt with promptly. The software can provide immediate notifications to all affected staff and senior management.

IT/DevOps software also offers similar benefits as we’ve discussed.

Why is Incident Management Software important?

Incident management software has a number of benefits including;

  • Automated incident reporting.
    When it comes to incident management processes, streamlining the process of reporting incidents is one of the key concepts for maximum success.
  • Instant notifications.
    Notifying relevant persons with inbuilt workflows for incident management and investigation.
  • Quick reporting.
    Notifying senior management, investigation, corrective actions – all in one centralized database.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance.
    In Australia, certain incidents (such as those that result in significant harm) must be reported to the relevant statutory authority. Incident management software can help automate this process and ensure regulatory compliance. This limits a company’s exposure to potentially expensive compliance offenses that may result in large fines or other punishments.
  • Reduced risk.
    Lowers the risk of excessive costs to the business (from fines).

What to look for when choosing incident management software

When choosing incident management software for your organization, there are certain key features and functions that you’ll want to look for.

Broadly speaking, these can be grouped into two main categories:

  • General incident management software functions
  • IT/DevOps-specific features and functions

The category you’ll want to pay the most attention to will depend on your organization’s field and the reasons why you’re looking to implement the incident management software.

General incident management software functions

Regardless of whether you want to log physical incidents or IT-related issues, you’ll want to look for the following features and functionality

1. Safety, Environment, and Quality functions
The first thing to look for when choosing incident management software is whether it offers a broad range of functions.

At a bare minimum, the incident management software should be able to:

  • Monitor and alert staff about incidents and critical errors
  • Integrate with team collaboration tools to notify responsible parties

These functions ensure that your organization remains aware of all incidents and you’re your staff are updated in real-time as to progress about how these issues are being dealt with.

However, leading incident management software offers safety, environment and quality functions, all in one convenient package. This lets you manage any incidents that occur in those three areas through a single incident management software platform. This helps you streamline your incident management processes.

2. Customizable dashboard and reporting options
When choosing incident management software it’s important to look closely at the dashboard and reporting features. Incident management software with self-configurable dashboards and reporting options will give your staff a broad range of ways to configure their dashboards to suit their own particular tastes.

Why’s this important?

If your staff are able to set up their dashboards just how they like them, they’ll be faster and more accurate when they use the incident management software. This should help boost your incident reporting rates and the accuracy of the reports that your staff members generate.

3. Comprehensive notification suite
The notification suite that comes with the incident management software should be comprehensive and customizable. After all, you will be relying on notifications for a wide range of activities such as;

  • Reminding staff to file incident reports
  • Monitoring and alerting staff about incidents
  • Prompting staff to take followup action, following an incident workflow
  • Notifying the relevant statutory authorities whenever a significant harm incident occurs
  • Notifying senior management to conduct investigations and take corrective actions

When choosing an incident management software, you want to ensure that its notification suite can be customized to suit the particular needs of your organization.

Ideally, you’ll want an incident management software that can offer workflow, SMS and email notifications. This will help streamline your organization and ensure the smooth running of your incident management procedures.

4. Analysis, allocation, and tracking
Leading incident management software can conduct root cause analysis whenever an incident occurs to help you identify whether a patter is occurring this can help you take preventative, proactive measures.

You’ll also want to look for incident management software that can perform action allocation and tracking. This helps your staff stay informed about the practices and procedures that they need to follow throughout the workflow.

With the incident management software sending automated notifications to remind staff of their duties and responsibilities, you can be assured that incident management software investigations will proceed smoothly.

5. Ease of use
Whichever type of incident management software you choose, there’s no substitute for hands-on testing. Request a demo of the incident management software and see whether it’s easy to use

Ask your staff the following questions:

  • Is it accessible from a range of devices? (tablets, smartphones, computers)
  • Are the devices in your organization compatible with the software?
  • Is the software platform flexible and easily customizable?
  • Does it complement your business processes and procedures?
  • Can the platform be easily used and quickly understood?
  • Can you collate all your important data and documentation into one simple interface?
  • Is the data easily sortable??

Evaluating these areas will take practical hands-on use by your staff. This will take time but will ensure that you pick incident management software that can meet the needs of your staff and your organization.

IT/DevOps-specific features and functions

If you’re choosing an IT-specific incident management software for IT and/or DevOps, you’ll want to consider the above factors. But you’ll also want to consider the following specific areas, too.

  1. Can you create a standardized workflow for IT incident management?
    Just as Safety, Environment, and Quality function-related incident management software should be able to create a standardized workflow to help staff address and tackle incidents as they occur, so too should IT-related incident management software be able to create workflows. This will help you respond to incidents faster, or set up an automated response that is triggered as soon as the incident is detected.
  2. Can the software respond to, report, and investigate IT errors?
    One additional feature that IT-specific incident management software should be able to manage is automatically investigating IT errors.

Taking your next steps

This compact guide has explained everything you need to know about choosing the right incident management software. You know that spreadsheets, paper systems, and carrier pigeons don’t work, so electing the right incident management software that can help your organization achieve its goals for a safe and secure workplace should be your next step.

Contact us for a demo to see for yourself how our incident management software can meet your needs!