In today’s age of fast-moving everything, businesses need to stay ahead of the curve. This means having a system committed to the company’s mission and vision that’s dynamic enough to remain innovative. For this to happen, every aspect of a business’s processes — from management to product development and delivery — must be forward-looking.
Developing efficient enterprise software is like competing in a relay race: From requirement gathering to development, deployment, monitoring, and support, many individuals with varying skill sets must work together efficiently to get to the finish line.
This article looks at the critical role of integrated communication in the success of our projects and how it’s pivotal in managing a security incident.
What Are Cross-Functional Processes?
Cross-functional processes are projects and tasks requiring teams to develop, deliver, monitor, and support a standard product or fulfill a common goal. These teams — which can include company employees, freelancers, or client representatives — all play a role in the successful development, deployment, and operation of an application.
Using our relay race analogy, these teams are the individual athletes who must work together to win the race. An organization can have as many teams as it requires, but each team must have relevant skills and information to achieve a successful cross-functional process.
A typical cross-functional process involves teams such as:
- User interface and user experience
- Business or marketing
- Quality analysts
- Software developers
Though differently skilled, there’s usually a significant overlap between the responsibilities of individual teams actively involved in delivering the finished project. This makes having an effective cross-team communication system necessary.
For example, the computer security incident response team may have to analyze the activities of a potential threat to several assets that different teams may manage. Then they’d communicate with those teams through established communication channels.
Seeing as individual teams function separately within the organization and typically have little need to leverage other teams, the organization can quickly become a breeding ground for communication silos. Often, information that should be general knowledge doesn’t circulate promptly, which could have far-reaching consequences — especially in a security incident.
What Is Integrated Communication?
Integrated communication is a communication system that ensures the smooth flow of real-time information in all relevant communication channels in an organization. We use many different tools to communicate and stay abreast of project, team, and organizational development. For example, we often use Jira to stay on top of our software’s development life cycle, Git for version control, Jenkins for continuous integration, Confluence for collaborative creation, and Slack for team correspondence.
With so many communication verticals, bits of information are likely to slip past us. But in high-stakes situations like a security incident, those bits of information can differentiate between an efficiently managed breach and one that cripples a network.
Why Should We Facilitate Cross-Functional Communication?
In a crisis or security incident, the success of our mitigation strategies hinges strongly on how soon we begin to implement our crisis and incident management procedures. Even if we have instituted a proactive response plan, it will be ineffective if we can’t promptly pull information from anywhere needed.
The singularity of functional teams often means that they can use any communication stack of their choice. The downside of this is that it can prevent prompt access to information by members of different teams. This means data can end up siloed in a single team’s communication stack.
We can avoid this by integrating and preserving information in our various communication tools. Incident management procedures are unique to the business processes of the organization, not individual teams. Communication tools should enable it — not limit it.
Incident remediation is a cross-functional process. It should be possible to make information generally or specifically available so that teams can pick up the relay baton, do their part, and hand it off to ensure timely incident remediation. When we efficiently integrate our communication tools, team objectives are more transparent, reducing communication silos. They make decision-making faster because information gets to all the respective persons promptly.
Best Practices for Integrated Communications
To reap the full benefits of integrated communications, we need to do it right. Though it’s possible to limit access to certain information, it’s essential to have end-to-end communication solutions. The following best practices will help ensure that we stay on the right track when integrating our communication processes.
Provide Best-In-Class Tooling Integration
It’s essential to be proactive about our internal and external communication processes in any incident by developing an incident communication management plan. A well-thought-out plan needs the right integration tool to ensure a smooth process. Some organizations only pay attention to external communication, such as clients and the media. We also need to include an internal communication procedure in our plan.
An internal communication plan should include adopting the proper tooling integration solution. This ensures that, for any given incident, we’ll have an unambiguous way of determining who is responsible for kicking off remediation and how to proceed responsibly.
Returning to our relay example, every runner must know when to run. We can’t complete the race successfully with runners overlapping — or worse, everyone assuming it’s someone else’s turn. Clear plans ensure everyone always knows who’s holding the metaphorical baton and to whom they should hand it off. With proper communication management, organizations can remediate crises as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Also, internal communication procedures need to specify how and what information to share with stakeholders, who should share what information, and when it should be shared.
Develop Methods for Quick Conflict Resolution
Situation management requires a series of responses. Mission-critical business processes, crucial infrastructure, and essential assets might be affected, and a business continuity plan is necessary to preserve operations during a crisis.
The only way to avoid an incident turning into a crippling event is by having a strategy that enables us to respond even before we can fully grasp the situation. Such a strategy might mean:
- Having a contingency plan and infrastructure
- Training staff members by simulating a likely-to-occur security incident and testing our developed plans for efficiency and speed
- Making improvements where necessary
- Having a “first aid” response that might precede a more comprehensive mitigation strategy as part of the overall response plan
A first-aid response would primarily require identifying, protecting, or isolating our most critical infrastructure, resources, and assets.
Finally, we should avoid unnecessary overhead as much as possible. Every part of the plan should be straightforward and directly relevant to the resolution of the incident. Ultimately, the sooner we respond to a crisis, the faster we can resolve it and incur less damage.
Ensure Process Transparency
Transparency should take center stage. Everyone should know the classification of security incidents and their respective remediation protocol. If there are unique roles to be performed in a crisis, don’t wait until an actual emergency before making the teams aware of these roles.
In the case of continuity of operations plans that might impact the teams’ existing workflow, ensure that everyone knows what the “new normal” is should a crisis occur.
Integrated communication is necessary to prevent communication silos in organizations with cross-functional teams. Integrated communication is vital for timely and efficient remediation during security incidents. To do it right, we need best-in-class tooling integration and a conflict resolution plan that is transparent to every organization member, straightforward to implement, and efficient.
Like a relay race, there’s a moment when the baton changes hands. This creates an overlap in the role of more than one team. In software development, we would call this a cross-functional process. In this short but crucial moment, how efficiently the teams communicate becomes the primary determiner of success.
See how TrendMicro’s suite of tools can help you drive effective integrated communication in your organization.
If you’re interested in developing expert technical content that performs, let’s have a conversation today.