Anyone who knows me knows I have a few obsessions – I’m cyclelogically obsessed with my bicycle and I am an absolute NASA-nut (thanks to Twitter and NASA Social for taking me to some really great places) and I’m a Duke grad, fan, devotee, groupie, etc.
Importance of Procedures
One of the really neat things about listening to NASA broadcasts is listening to their checklist mentality – I love listening to launches and post landing shuttle era safing procedures as they made it safe to have the astronauts exit the orbiter. Key point: procedures made it safe.
The toughest part of the execution of a third party risk program is getting the procedures right. They should be so detailed and so organized that anyone can pick them up and arrive at the same result.
Procedures are the step by step playbook of how to do the job; it must be granular, thorough, accurate and understandable.
They can go on for hundreds of steps – sign on to this system, do this action, sign on to this screen and do this step, confirm and move on. They need to be tested, re-tested, stress-tested and updated regularly.
How best to write them?
Have the person doing the job transcribe it to someone sitting beside them in such a way that they are literally narrating their job. They should be accurate so that someone taking over their job could do it for a day without questions.
How best to test them?
Have them read it out and have a person remotely do the same thing – is it accurate and does it return the same result? Job swap between people for a day and see if a lesser experienced person can get to the same result.
Can it be done without intervention?
Just like the astronaut and mission control relying on one another to read the same steps and get to the same result, so should your risk management team.
Before your third party ends up with “Houston, we have a problem”, make sure you have procedures to account for every possible eventuality.