How to Set Up an Effective Incident Management Team

Posted 2.07.24 by:

A manager stands with her incident management team in a morning briefing. Learn more about incident management tools at 1stReporting.com.

Many organizations do not emphasize enough the importance of an effective incident management team in maintaining safety, compliance, and operational efficiency. In today’s workplace, however, team members are becoming hyper-vigilant in their stance against unsafe working conditions. 

Whether it’s silent quitters or unproductive staff, team members who don’t feel safe don’t generally stay at an employer for long.

Setting up an efficacious incident management team is crucial for the implementation of preventive strategies and processes aimed at reducing incident response times.

What goes into setting up an incident management team, and how can we most effectively do this? 

In this guide, I’ll share my decades of managerial experience with you to provide the tips I’ve learned regarding the efficacious incident management team and standards set up. Whether you’re in an organization, a corporation, or a startup, these tips will help guide you through the team creation process. Let’s get efficient with safety management and get started.

Understanding the Role of an Incident Management Team

A junior safety officer signals to a supervisor for assistance. Learn more about incident reporting at 1stReporting.com.
Incidents happen, but with a strong safety program, they can be prevented.

Let’s take a moment to set our sights—after all, we need a destination to know where to travel, if you know what I mean.

Definition and Importance

IBM defines incident management as a process used by IT and DevOps teams in response to unplanned events. (1) Of course, this definition is catering to cybersecurity. Those of us in the field service industries, utilities, or other mobile service-related operations understand incident management a little differently.

Depending on the industry, an incident management team may have varied responsibilities related to that industry, yet the concept remains the same: to manage incidents.

An incident management team is a group of appointed staff who oversee the standard and non-standard operations and procedures pertaining to the observation and recognition of hazards, response, documentation, and prevention of accidents, injuries, or damage to property events in the workplace. These team members typically consist of a mixed representation of team members, from workers to managers.

An effective risk, hazard, incident, and accident prevention strategy for any enterprise is only as effective as the incident management team overseeing it. Therefore, the importance of an effective incident management team may, in some industries, literally mean the difference between life and death.

Key Responsibilities

Primary responsibilities for a robust incident management team include the following:

Primary Duties of an Incident Management Team

  1. Incident Detection and Reporting
    1. Monitor for potential incidents using various tools and methods.
    2. Ensure timely reporting of detected incidents to relevant stakeholders.
  2. Incident Assessment and Classification
    1. Assess the severity of the incident as well as the potential impact.
    2. Classify incidents based on predefined criteria (e.g., minor, major, critical).
  3. Incident Response Coordination
    1. Mobilize the incident management team and relevant resources.
    2. Coordinate the immediate response to mitigate the impact of the incident.
  4. Communication Management
    1. Establish clear communication channels within the team and with other departments.
    2. Keep all stakeholders informed about the incident status and response actions.
  5. Resource Allocation
    1. Ensure the availability and efficient allocation of necessary resources (personnel, equipment, technology).
    2. Manage the logistics of deploying these resources effectively.
  6. Documentation and Reporting
    1. Document all actions taken during any emergency or incident response.
    2. Generate reports for internal review and external compliance purposes.
  7. Incident Resolution
    1. Implement measures to resolve the incident.
    2. Ensure that your operations return to normal as quickly and safely as possible.
  8. Post-Incident Analysis
    1. Conduct a thorough incident analysis after resolution.
    2. Identify lessons learned and areas for improvement.

Keep in mind that many of these responsibilities apply to various positions within the organization. Depending on how you set responsibilities and ownership, it may merely be the incident management team’s job to ensure that procedures are completed appropriately. Each scenario will depend on the particular situation, industry, hazard, and so forth.

Secondary Duties of an Incident Management Team

  1. Training and Preparedness
    1. Develop and conduct regular training programs for team members.
    2. Organize drills and simulations to enhance readiness.
  2. Policy and Procedure Development
    1. Assist in the creation and updating of incident management policies and procedures.
    2. Ensure your organization’s policies are in alignment with industry standards and regulatory requirements.
  3. Risk Management
    1. Participate in risk assessment activities to identify potential threats.
    2. Develop strategies to mitigate identified risks.
  4. Continuous Improvement
    1. Evaluate the incident management process. Choose relevant KPIs for your evaluation so you can have a system to identify success measurably.
    2. Implement improvements based on post-incident analyses and feedback.
  5. Stakeholder Engagement
    1. Engage with internal and also external stakeholders in order to build support for incident management initiatives.
    2. Communicate the importance of incident management to the organization.
  6. Compliance and Audit Support
    1. Ensure incident management practices comply with relevant regulations and standards.
    2. Provide documentation and support during audits and compliance checks.
  7. Technology Integration
    1. Identify and integrate new technologies that enhance incident management capabilities.
    2. Ensure that all team members are trained and, thus, proficient in using these technologies.
  8. Resource Management
    1. Maintain an inventory of incident management resources.
    2. Ensure resources are up-to-date and in good working condition.
  9. Public Relations Management
    1. Manage communications with the public and media during high-profile incidents.
    2. Ensure accurate and timely information dissemination to maintain public trust.

These duties ensure that an incident management team can effectively manage and mitigate incidents while maintaining operational continuity and improving overall preparedness within an enterprise organization, corporation, or municipality.

Feel free to bookmark this page and refer to it when you or your appointed team members need to generate your incident management team’s SOPs. To learn about writing appropriate SOPs, please read our guide, How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure.

Steps to Set Up an Incident Management Team

A group of incident management team members excitedly conclude their morning safety meeting. Learn about mobile safety documentation software at 1stReporting.com.

In my experience managing incident teams over the years, I’ve come to recognize the steps needed to set up such a team. Keep in mind that when I say an incident management team, I am referring to an in-house group of team members appointed by upper management. This group should not be confused with accident management companies that offer support for post-road accident events. (2)

Below, you’ll find the process I use to address setting up effective incident management teams. In a nutshell:

  1. Assess your organization’s needs, objectives, and obligations.
  2. Define incident management team responsibilities and the roles that will champion each of those responsibilities.
  3. Develop protocols, procedures, and documentation (SOPs) to formally introduce and train team members on the appropriate procedures relating to their role’s responsibilities.
  4. Set up the training regiments based on each team member or role’s responsibilities and ensure that stakeholders understand their roles and responsibilities.
  5. Provide your team with the appropriate tools to complete the incident management team’s objectives efficiently (this is highly important).

Here are the steps again that I take to set up effective incident management teams, in a little greater detail:

Step 1: Assessing Needs, Objectives, and Obligations

Identifying Risks and Incident Types

  • Conduct a Risk Assessment:
    • Identify potential risks and types of incidents that could affect the organization. These can include (but are not limited to) natural disasters, technical failures, security breaches, and human errors.
    • Use historical data, industry reports, and expert consultations with your team members to understand the likelihood and impact of various risks.
  • Categorize Incidents:
    • Classify incidents based on severity (e.g., minor, major, critical) and type (e.g., operational, security, environmental). The severity of the incident will help you determine the appropriate course of action and apply a fast-response methodology accordingly.
    • Develop scenarios for each type of typical or predicted incident to understand potential impacts and required responses.

Setting Clear Objectives and Meeting Obligations

  • Define the Team’s Mission:
    • Establish a clear mission statement for the incident management team, focusing on maintaining safety, compliance, and operational continuity.
  • Set Specific Goals:
    • Outline specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for the team. Examples include reducing incident response times, minimizing downtime, and improving communication during incidents.
  • Align with Organizational Objectives:
    • Ensure that the incident management team’s goals align with the broader objectives of the organization, such as protecting assets, maintaining customer trust, and ensuring regulatory compliance.
  • Align Organizational Objectives with Regulatory Obligations:
    • Assign one member of the incident management team to oversee incident response obligations, including ensuring incident response plans align with incident reporting regulations. This role is even more critical when operating field teams or locations in multiple jurisdictions, regions, or even across borders.

Step 2: Defining Roles and Responsibilities

One question you may have is how many people should be on the incident management team. The answer is as many as you need to fulfill the program’s legal, ethical, and moral obligations and organizational objectives. Following are a few of my tips to facilitate the process of defining roles and responsibilities with your incident management team.

Selecting Team Members

  • Identify Key Roles:
    • Determine the necessary roles within the incident management team, such as Incident Commander, Safety Officer, Communication Officer, and Technical Support. Remember, you may also want to assign a Regulatory Officer—someone who ensures that company policy and procedures align with regulations. This role can be of great importance when operating in different regions with differing or opposing regulations.
  • Choose Qualified Individuals:
    • Select the team members based on their expertise, experience, role, and ability to perform under pressure. Ensure a diverse skill set is represented within the team to cover all aspects of incident management.
    • Ensure your team includes different levels of governance, for example, someone from a supervisory role and another from a worker role.
  • Provide Training:
    • Offer specialized training to equip team members with the skills and knowledge required for their roles.

Assigning Roles and Duties

  • Define Specific Responsibilities:
    • Clearly outline the responsibilities of each role. For instance, the Incident Commander oversees the entire response, the Safety Officer ensures all actions are safe, and the Communication Officer manages internal and external communications.
  • Establish Accountability:
    • Assign accountability to each team member for their specific tasks. Ensure that everyone on the incident management team understands their role and responsibilities. Furthermore, it would be best if they know how they contribute to the overall incident response. At this stage, it would be best to create SOPs and add them to your health and safety manual to ensure that your organization has an updated database. If you’d like more information on writing SOPs, read my guide, How to Write a Standard Operating Procedure.

Step 3: Developing Protocols and Procedures

Incident Response Plan

  • Create a Detailed Plan:
    • Develop a comprehensive incident response plan, or set of plans, that outlines the steps required during an incident. Include procedures for detection, reporting, assessment, response, and recovery.
  • Include Response Strategies:
    • Detail specific strategies for different types of incidents. For example, a data breach might require different actions compared to a worker injury or a natural disaster.
  • Ensure Plan Accessibility:
    • Make the incident response plan easily accessible to all team members and regularly update it to reflect new risks and lessons learned. At this step, open feedback and communication channels become critical. Let’s look at those channels next.

Communication Channels

  • Establish Clear Protocols:
    • Define clear communication protocols to ensure timely and accurate information flow during incidents. These protocols include who communicates with whom, what information is shared, and how the information is disseminated.
    • Pro Tip: Implement the 1st Reporting app (link to Google Play), where you can set up custom mobile reporting for not only your incident management team but also the entire organization. You can create custom forms and notifications, dynamically link incidents to response forms, and more.
  • Utilize Technology:
    • Implement tools and technologies, such as the 1st Reporting app, to facilitate communication. Features like real-time reporting, GPS tracking, and dynamic linking can enhance efficiency.
  • Prepare Templates:
    • Create communication templates for common incidents to streamline the process and ensure consistency. For example, in the 1st Reporting app, your team will find over 100 standard pre-built templates and a powerful custom template builder to make optimized custom mobile templates for your team.

Step 4: Training and Drills

Training is crucial to the adoption and implementation of both your incident management team and all team members and stakeholders. In this step of setting up your incident management team, we’ll consider the training requirements and documentation required by the various roles in the organization. Your incident management team should head up the project of initiating, managing, and maintaining safety training programs. Relating to team members and roles, depending on the various training requirements and the complexity of the subject within your organization, you may want to appoint a single person within your incident management team to champion the training management.

Initial Training Programs

  • Develop Comprehensive Training:
    • Design training programs that cover all aspects of incident management, including risk identification, response procedures, and the use of technology.
  • Incorporate Hands-On Exercises:
    • Include practical exercises and simulations to help team members apply what they’ve learned in real-world scenarios.

Regular Drills and Simulations

  • Conduct Regular Drills:
    • Organize regular drills and simulation exercises within departments and facilities to test the incident management team’s readiness and response capabilities. The team should also similarly set up and conduct drills with different teams and departments, ensuring that each department, team, group, and individual is appropriately prepared. Remember, an hour of labor for safety training can save an organization millions from incidents, and, more importantly, it could save someone’s life.
  • Evaluate and Improve:
    • After each drill, conduct a thorough evaluation to identify strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these findings, update training programs and protocols.
  • Involve All Stakeholders:
    • Ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including other departments and external partners, participate in drills to foster collaboration and communication. Provide teams with a feedback mechanism that ensures everyone feels safe and happy to share and participate. 

Step 5: Utilizing Technology

The final step is to provide your incident management team with the tools they need to get the job done. Furthermore, you want to ensure that your organization hasn’t just signed up for a huge labor expense—balance is best when maintained appropriately. So, here’s where you can make a significant contribution by implementing tools like incident management and reporting software like the 1st Reporting app.

The 1st Reporting app, a leader in the secure mobile incident reporting space, is a prime example of taking incident reporting tools to the next level for unprecedented efficiency. Don’t take it from me; read the 1st Reporting case studies here and learn for yourself how technology can make more than incident management efficient.

Incident Management Software

  • Adopt Effective Tools:
    • Implement incident management software like 1st Reporting to streamline incident documentation and response. Highlight features such as real-time reporting, GPS tracking, and dynamic linking.
  • Integrate with Existing Systems:
    • It would be best to ensure that the software chosen integrates seamlessly with other systems used by the organization to provide a comprehensive view of incidents.

Data Analysis and Reporting

  • Leverage Data:
    • Use data collected during incidents to analyze response effectiveness and identify trends. Tools like the 1st Reporting app excel in this respect by providing built-in KPI reporting as well as working seamlessly with Microsoft Power BI.
  • Generate Reports:
    • Create detailed reports to provide insights into incident patterns and response outcomes. Use these reports to inform continuous improvement efforts.

Empowering Your Incident Management Team for Success

An incident management team work to set up their incident management policies. Learn more about mobile incident management tools at 1stReporting.com.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

Henry Ford (4)

Setting up an effective incident management team is crucial for maintaining safety, compliance, and operational efficiency. By assessing needs, defining roles, developing protocols, and utilizing technology, you can create a team that responds swiftly and effectively to any incident. 

Equip your team with the right tools, like the 1st Reporting app, to streamline incident documentation and response. Start transforming your incident management today and experience the benefits of improved safety and efficiency. Contact our team to book a demo and learn more about how the 1st Reporting app can elevate your incident management strategy.

Article Sources

  1. “What Is Incident Management? | IBM.” 2024. Ibm.com. February 22, 2024. https://www.ibm.com/topics/incident-management.
  2. “Blog – How Do Accident Management Companies Work?” 2022. Claimsline.com. 2022. https://www.claimsline.com/blog/how-do-accident-management-companies-work.
  3. “Workplace Communication Statistics in 2024.” 2023. Pumble Learn. June 7, 2023. https://pumble.com/learn/communication/communication-statistics/#:~:text=Workplace%20communication%20statistics%20show%20that,by%20as%20much%20as%2025%25..
  4. https://www.facebook.com/RConlow. 2020. “25 Team Leadership Quotes That Inspire Greatness | Rick Conlow.” Rick Conlow. February 28, 2020. https://rickconlow.com/25-team-leadership-quotes-inspire-greatness/.

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