Operations Role Cluster Risk Management

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Operations Role Cluster Risk Management

The Operations Role Cluster includes skilled specialists who focus on technology areas and production-system tasks necessary to run the business on a daily basis. Enterprise operations roles include dedicated specialties such as messaging, system administration, telecommunications, networking, and database administration.

Within the Operations Role Cluster, the Availability Management service management fuction (SMF) is concerned with the availability and reliability of the overall system. The goal of availability management is to ensure optimal availability of IT services with the correct use of resources, methods, and technology.

For example, suppose that someone in the Operations Role Cluster, performing availability management for the company's supply chain management service, realizes that if the IT's staffing levels were to drop, IT would not be able to meet the required service levels. In particular, there are rumors of a merger with another company. If that happens, then some IT staff are likely to be cut. If the staffing levels are cut, the supply chain management service would experience more frequent failures, and it would take longer to recover from each, which would reduce the company's internal productivity and damage its reputation with other companies. Possible solutions to reduce the impact of the staffing cuts might include the use of automated tools, borrowing resources from other departments or hiring contingent staff, or resetting customer expectations about service levels.

The context for this risk is that someone acting in the Operations Role Cluster (and conducting availability management for the company's supply chain management service) realizes that staffing cuts resulting from a merger would prevent the group from meeting its requirements.

The following table shows various examples of risk components pertinent to a scenario involving the Operations Role Cluster.

Table: Operations Role Cluster risk components

Risk componentStatement
Root cause:People
Condition: The following event occurs ...There are too few people in availability management to properly manage the availability of the supply chain management service.
Operations consequence: ... operations will be hurt in this manner ...The supply chain management service has low availability due to low mean time between failures (MTBF) and high mean time to repair (MTTR).
Downstream effect: ... and the business as a whole will be hurt in this manner ...Reduced internal productivity and reduced ability to transact with external trading partners, which causes those partners to lose confidence in your organization.
Mitigation: Prior to the condition occurring, we will try to reduce the impact and/or probability by ...Deploy automated system-monitoring tools to compensate for lack of staff.
Trigger: If the condition is imminent (but has not yet occurred), we will know because this happens...Service level agreements are not being met. The merger is announced and upper management states that layoffs are possible.
Contingency: If we are unable to prevent the condition, we will respond to the trigger in this way:Hire contingent staff, borrow staff from other departments, or reset partner expectations.

This is a good example of a single condition that can trigger multiple contingency plans. Downsizing may affect many other teams as well as availability management, and each team may have different plans.

Also, consider the case in which availability management is the only team being downsized. That team is uniquely positioned to anticipate this risk condition. This is one case in which the principle of integrated risk management (performing risk management in every role and every job function) can be vitally important.

Finally, it is worth noting that Availability Management is one of the SMFs in the Optimizing Quadrant of the MOF life cycle. SMFs in that quadrant tend to focus on planning for the future, which often makes it difficult to identify specific triggers for the risks they face.