One of the largest risks that organizations face is human error. The outcome of human errors show themselves in security, architecture, business operations, IT & non-IT projects, etc. The list goes on and on. You can read more about the impacts of human error on infosec here and here.
It’s important to understand some of the reasons why these errors occur, especially when critical projects or changes are being considered.
Some of the high level things to think about:
- Physical fatigue – this is likely the leading cause of human errors, workers may not be getting enough sleep or downtime, especially during critical projects when stress and demands may be high, not to speak of their personal lives – organizations should allow for key resources to have adequate downtime to reduce errors during critical projects
- Decision fatigue – the more decisions that someone has to make, the worse their decisions get over time – just like physical fatigue, preserving their decision making capability should be a consideration during critical projects for key resources
- Lack of time on task – in many organizations, critical project key personnel are often called to meeting after meeting to discuss, plan or execute parts of the project – when this minimizes their time on task to perform the research, work or development for the project then quality suffers – at the very least, it may aggravate the other problems of fatigue; organizations should focus key resources on time on task to up the quality of their work during critical projects
- Lack of peer review – peer review is an essential control for human error, since it can catch such usual conditions as typos, missing words, simple mistakes in logic, etc. Critical projects should always include several layers of peer review to ensure higher quality of the process or outcome
- Lack of preparation for failure – many critical projects suffer from this form of error as many people assume that their plans will be successful, but failure occurs often, and the more complex the systems or plans, the more likely it is to occur – have a contingency plan to prevent emotional decisions which can deeply impact quality and successful outcomes
There are many other issues around human error in critical projects and even more in day to day operations. But, these seem to be the most prevalent and immediate issues we see around critical projects with clients in the last few years.
How does your team manage human errors? What controls have you implemented? Share with us on Twitter (@microsolved, @lbhuston) and we may write about it in future posts. As always, thanks for reading!