OSS Triage

The term triage may have originated during the Napoleonic Wars from the work of Dominique Jean Larrey. The term was used further during World War I by French doctors treating the battlefield wounded at the aid stations behind the front. Those responsible for the removal of the wounded from a battlefield or their care afterwards would divide the victims into three categories:
* Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
* Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
* Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.”

Triage comes from the French word trier, to sift or sort. Triage is a means of prioritising tasks, decisions, etc when there is a shortage of resources to complete the required activities. The concept of triage has been borrowed by business to filter / sort priorities into the following categories:

  • Critical / Essential
  • Urgent / Important
  • Optional

Triage appears in a number of forms in an OSS implementation due to the ever-present under-supply of resources on these projects. Examples include:

  • Process design – focus on designing your processes around the critical / essential / most-common situations and handle the rest by exception. It is often the exceptions that clog up your process flow and efficiency
  • Collection of and processing of data – only collect and keep the data that is most critical to your business. The rest is time consuming to collect, reconcile, maintain, store and report upon
  • Responses – whether they are trouble-tickets, problems, faults, service orders, work orders, etc, there are always responses that are more critical than others

CSPs are typically quite good at prioritising the third (responses), but not quite so good at prioritising the first two points.

Where do you feel the most pressing need to use triage within your OSS?


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