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Calamity plan Municipality Leeuwarden

30-05-2018 By Martijn Maas. I experience the ICT department of the Municipality of Leeuwarden as a fresh, young, energetic organization. They build and deliver futureproof ICT services together with their outsourcing partners. They not only provide the services to the Municipality of Leeuwarden, but also to a large number of other municipalities in the province including the Wadden Islands. Being part of the future proof is that you are ready to effectively and efficiently combat any major incident in the ICT service. They asked CoThink to help to develop a calamity plan for this purpose.

How do you handle such a request? An important aspect of this is that I combined their existing knowledge and experience with the effective concepts from CoThinks' RATIO approach. Besides that, my extensive personal experience also helped!

Challenges

Fortunately, but also unfortunately; the municipality of Leeuwarden rarely experiences major incidents or calamities until never. Happy for the service to the customers. But 'unfortunately' because it means they hardly get practiced in the fight against ICT calamities. Another challenge was versatility. Due to the largely virtualized infrastructure, large application volumes and huge service dependencies, it is almost impossible to determine what kind of calamity they need be prepared for.

Two main criteria

These challenges set the two main criteria for the calamity plan:
1. The plan must be applicable to all forms and types of ICT calamities, scalable and flexible.
2. The plan must be pragmatic and non-complicated so that it can be effective even without exercise and routine.
I conducted several interviews with important managerial and technical stakeholders in the organization. This is how I discovered the specifics of the organization, their customers and the services. At the same time this allowed me to integrate the lessons learned from previous incidents into the calamity plan. In the RATIO approach we have 3 roles in problem solving. The expert(s), facilitator and problem owner. These roles also apply in the event of a calamity and form the basis for the command structure in the calamity plan.

Key aspects of this command structure

  • It gives those involved a foothold in a calamity, who does what, when, and how.
  • It is about control, communication, and technology
  • It is scalable. The approach can easily be scaled up or down depending on the calamity
  • It is pragmatic and not complicated, even without experience
It is ofcourse helpful if those involved with the execution of the plan are trained in problem solving skills. But what also helps is to practice on a fictitious calamity.

Outcome

I have been able to fight or prevent many calamities in my career as (crisis) major incident manager. It has always felt very natural to me, but I've often thought about the question, "What do I actually do during a major incident or calamity?" I really appreciate that as a CoThink consultant I can take all those experiences to the next level and apply them in this calamity plan.
I am particularly proud of how pragmatic the calamity plan is; a thin document that is very efficient and effective. That appeals to me! And fortunately, the ICT department of the Municipality of Leeuwarden as well. It's a calamity plan that people can really use in an easy way.






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