Log it or lose it
Most people with a role in an incident management or business recovery team accept that, if they have to invoke their plans, it’s a good idea to keep an event log. Indeed, many plans contain a pre-prepared event logging form for just such a purpose, with headings such as date, time, event, response and so forth. Which is a good start.
The problem is that most of us just don’t record enough information. We might feel we’ve captured enough for our own internal post-incident review, but we seldom consider the other possibilities. Like having to justify our actions in support of an insurance claim, or defend our actions or decisions in the event of legal action, or an inquest or public enquiry. To put it another way, we don’t record enough information to cover our backside!
When you consider that most court cases, enquiries and inquests take place a long time, sometimes several years, after the event, you can see why relying on our memories isn’t really good enough. Some of us can’t remember what we did last week, let alone recalling in detail what we did and why we did it on a given day several years ago.
So what is enough information? As well as recording events and actions it’s important to record decisions, the reasons for and the reasoning behind those decisions, the context in which they were made (such as time or other pressures), the options considered, the information or advice available at the time, who was involved, whether and when the actions were carried out, the timescales involved (how long it took, not just the time it was completed), and any review or revision that was subsequently undertaken.
This may seem like overkill now, but don’t underestimate its importance. And if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to defend your actions in court, you’ll be glad you took note – and took adequate notes, in the form of a detailed event log.