People are everything – here’s how to make sure they keep your company safe

People are essential to a company. Each role is individually and collectively important to keeping a business running smoothly. They are your most important asset.

When we consider why a Zero Outage industry standard is necessary, we think about the IT processes, the platforms and cybersecurity as being essential to ensuring quality and reliability at all levels. But we also need to look at the people.

It’s not enough for you to just hire the best and the brightest. Sure, it’s hard enough to get good employees who are well-trained, have in-depth technical knowledge and all the right qualifications. But in order to ensure that big issues don’t occur, employees need to be able to understand the extent of zero outage and how their actions might have consequences.

Your employees are key to IT quality assurance

Some of this can be solved by educating employees on the value of their own work and its full impact – whether positive or negative – on the business, because employees who can see how their work contributes to the success of the business in an overall context are more motivated to want to help the company improve, to expand their competencies and to promote an open-minded approach to potential problems and weaknesses.
To achieve this, the Zero Outage Industry standard association has come up with a three-step Competencies Model to help companies improve how they manage people in order to achieve improved IT quality assurance.

The Competency Model

First, there’s Methodical Competency. This refers to what the employee needs to know in order to understand the scope of activity and apply knowledge in the most efficient manner, such as understanding zero outage principles.

Then there’s Functional Competency, which refers to the knowledge and experience needed to accurately perform to zero outage standards. This means hiring employees that are proactive, who understand that it’s not enough to simply do their job, pass it onto the next team and then let go.

Employees need to be able to demonstrate knowledge and expertise outside the knowledge of their own group, to think about what happens when the software they have developed is applied – although it might be solving a problem in one regard, will it have a negative side effect in another area?

And finally, there’s Interpersonal Competency – the necessary social behaviours and behavioural capabilities people need to process when working in a zero outage environment, such as a sense of urgency, a proactive work approach, communication and teamwork, and then a sense of quality.

Everyone now wants 100% guaranteed uptime

More and more, customers want to have guaranteed 100% uptime. Unforeseen downtime problems can get very expensive very quickly, for example the Amazon Web Services outage on 28 February, which caused multiple big and small websites to go offline for several hours, with the damages running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

A recent study by Oxford Economics found that data breaches cause a permanent 1.8% drop in share prices on average. In IT, more than 80% of all mistakes occur due to human error, which is why we need to start thinking about how we can get our employees to understand zero outage and how they can help protect their work and your company.

Klaus Reile is a senior manager at NetApp in Germany. Alongside Michael Mayr he is leading the people workstream.


The information contained in this document is contributed and shared as thought leadership in order to evolve the Zero Outage Best Practices. It represents the personal view of the author and not the view of the Zero Outage Industry Standard Association.

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