Key dependency individuals, or “human bridges”, take on most of the responsibility for coordinating critical business activities such as complex release management, disaster recovery testing and service recovery events. Human bridges come into their own when the usefulness of predictable process runs out and experience and resourcefulness are required to bridge the gap to ensure the success of these critical events.
The Rise in Automation
The drive towards greater automation might appear to diminish the dependencies that organizations place on these key individuals but, in reality, the real goal is to reduce the manual overheads placed upon these individuals. This will provide them with more time to analyze data and navigate the path ahead through to a safe and successful conclusion.
The benefits of automation should not just be measured by the migration towards automated executables and cost efficiencies but also the automated provision of critical data directly to those in command and control positions, at the real point of need. This can save them a lot of time and frustration caused by the need to manually construct real-time status and report progress, particularly when time is of the essence.
Why We Still Need Humans
Not every eventuality can be predicted or planned for and only humans with the right experience, knowledge and instincts are able to navigate these situations. Subject matter experts are able to deal with complex problems and unforeseen issues in a way that automated tools probably never will. When process runs out, human intervention has to bridge the gap - so human bridges need to be sufficiently supported to fill this role.
Applications that empower the user by surfacing the data that they need, increase efficiency and reduce risk. Uber, for example, shows app users where the nearest available cars are so they can clearly see where their ride is and how long it will take to get to them. Comparison websites bring data to consumers to accelerate selection on purchasing decisions. During critical events a human bridge should not have to be calling individual task owners to get a picture of their status to determine how the event is progressing as a whole - that data should be provided to them in a convenient and manageable way.
Supporting Human Bridges
Supporting human bridges with the right tools and data can help them to be more efficient and successful. According to Jonathan Burr, Founder and CEO of Howz, “Professionals work with the information made available to them, and so the more information that you give them, the more they are able to do.” Having relevant information at their fingertips can help subject matter experts to focus their energies on the aspects of their job that require uniquely human skills. Supporting key individuals is essential to critical event success and the retention of these vital resources in the company.