Different Roles


Business responders are paged as appropriate when needed. These roles are ordered by functional groups for reference.

Initial responders

These roles are the first to respond and necessary for the resolution process to begin

Business Lead#

This role is very similar to an Incident Commander, but is labelled differently to avoid confusion. The Business Lead acts as the single source of truth of what is currently happening in the business incident. They are not a resolver: they delegate work instead of doing it themselves.

The Business Lead drives business incidents to resolution and ensures there is clarity of ownership and action. Responsibilities include:

Technical SLT#

This role should be filled by a technical member of the Senior Leadership Team. They are a business stakeholder and they initially act as a subject matter expert representing the needs of the company during a technical incident. Once a business incident is triggered, the Technical SLT role becomes the designated spokesperson for personalized customer communications. For example, if a direct email was sent to customers, they would sent with this person’s name attached. They become the public face of the incident when directly communicating with customers. The Technical SLT is responsible for generating the first draft of any outbound messaging and works with the rest of the messaging collaborators to produce a finalized draft.

Customer Liaison#

During a technical incident, the Customer Liaison is responsible for managing customer communications and keeping a pulse on customer impact. Because this role is typically filled by a technical member of your staff that is intimately familiar with your product, they function well as a technical subject matter expert for the business incident.

When a business incident is declared, the Customer Liaison will hand off their responsibilities in the technical incident to a standby responder and then join the business incident as a technical SME. The job of the Customer Liaison in the business incident is to provide an initial briefing to business incident responders, relay updates, become a communication conduit between the technical incident and the business incident, and ensure that any messaging generated by the business incident group is technically accurate.

Operations responders

Functionally, these roles are responsible for performing the actions that switch business operations between normal and emergency mode. Emergency business operations entail temporarily halting normal outbound customer activities for the duration of the severe technical incident. Responders in this role should also keep a pulse and report on any abnormal business operations that may occur.

Marketing Officer#

Outbound demand generation activities should be halted during a severe technical outage. Many outbound marketing campaigns are designed as top of funnel activities requiring some engagement of a fully functional product. During a severe technical outage, those outbound marketing efforts will have an adverse effect is they’re not halted.

This role is responsible for halting and, later, restarting any outbound campaigns that typically belong to marketing functions (e.g. paid ads, email blasts, calling campaigns, etc). Because Marketing typically has access to a CRM or similar tool that can be used to contact current customers, they are also responsible for doing the work of sending approved personalized communications directly to customers during the business incident.

Social Officer#

This role is responsible for halting and, later, restarting outbound social campaigns. Once halted, the Social Officer also monitors social channels to track and report on customer sentiment. They will publicly post responses when necessary or manage direct messages for followers that raise questions or concerns about the severe technical incident.

The Social Officer also monitors internal company communication channels (e.g. Slack, email distribution lists, etc) to track, report, and respond to any questions or concerns raised within the walls of your organization.

Media Officer#

The Media Officer is primarily responsible for generating responses to inbound inquiries from media-related third parties (e.g. news outlets, reporters, analysts, influencers, public officials, etc). This role should be filled by a trained member of your corporate communications team that typically works with PR agencies and coordinates any press-related communication.

Messaging Responders

Functionally, these roles are responsible for collaborating on any outbound communications to internal stakeholders or external customers. Responders in this role work with the Technical SLT to ensure that any outbound communications meet corporate requirements.

This role is filled by a lawyer from your corporate legal team. In situations where material damage could occur, it’s best to involve legal counsel as early in the process as possible. The person in this role is also responsible for ensuring that any outbound communications meet your company’s legal requirements.

Messaging Officer#

This role is filled by a trained member of your corporate communications team. The Messaging Officer is primarily responsible for ensuring any outbound communications meet your corporate messaging guidelines.

ELT Approver#

This role is filled by a member of the Executive Leadership team. The ELT Approver role has “final” approval over any outbound communications generated by this group. The approval is “final” because authorization for distributing any finalized communications from the business incident group rolls up to the technical Incident Commander.

Although typically filled by the CEO, like any and every responder role, this role should have backup responders that can take this responsibility in the case of any unforeseen unavailability.

Departmental Responders

You may have additional roles that are necessary to switch normal company operations into emergency mode or collaborate on customer messaging. The roles above cover the minimum necessary considerations, although your company may identify more roles, as necessary.

Additional responder roles may be needed to carry out necessary and unforeseen functions, such as providing context-specific updates depending on the impact of the incident. These additional responders would likely be from customer-facing teams such as Support, Sales, Professional Services, etc. However, they may also include responders from Marketing, Business Development, Finance, etc. Each of these departments should have a rotating on-call role that can help mobilize a business response as needed.