How an IT postmortem can help you avoid a crisis

The CEO has called to report that he can’t save his IPO document to the network. Nor can any of the other officers. “Network drive H is low on disk space,” says one of your colleagues. What can you as an IT pro do to resolve this scenario? Make more space on the network drive, of course. The problem has been solved, but what did we learn from the problem? What can be put into place to prevent this from occurring again? Here is when you implement the use of an IT postmortem meeting with all your key support members.

Corner IT Office

Image Credit Ant Pruitt

By IT postmortem, I mean hold a scheduled meeting discussing the critical support case that recently occurred. Doing so allows you and the team to look closer at the details of what may have been a routine critical case to resolve. In some instances the issue may have been routine, but not always.

What happened? When did it happen? Why did it happen? These are some of the important questions one should ask when leading the postmortem. It’s important to identify the problem as well as its root cause. It’s even more important to determine how the problem can be prevented. The attendees of the meeting should be well informed on the severity of the case as well as the importance of learning from it. A postmortem meeting shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to point fingers at other colleagues or users, Instead it’s a coaching mechanism for all support members involved.

This is a good time to address protocols and procedures. There are situations when the, quote, old way of doing things may turn out to be an obstacle. Use the postmortem meeting to assess the current procedures in place. Procedures are not always set in stone and should be in place as a benefit to the customers and your team. If new procedures are to be in place, be sure to follow a thorough analysis of your SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) in conjunction with your SOA’s (service operation agreement). This way you ensure optimal support and service to your customers.

Ideally you and the support team will not have to hold many IT issue postmortem meetings. We all know technology isn’t perfect and can lead to small problems or extremely critical issues. Your best approach is to be prepared for them and use this opportunity to learn from the issues.

Ant Pruitt
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Anthony Pruitt is an IT pro, a columnist and the podcast captain at Email him at [email protected]
Ant Pruitt
Ant Pruitt
Tags: Business Management,Productivity,Technology
  • Mike Sweeney

    The biggest challenge any manager will have with this is avoiding the “blame game”.. if you can get the group past “who was/is at fault” then it’s very valuable.

    • Ant Pruitt

      totally agree, Mike!
      The finger pointing, in my experience, is usually within the first 5 minutes. Then things settle down.
      Thanks for reading and your comment!

      -RAP, II