Will Human Error Cost Your Company $100 Million Dollars?



Before disaster strikes, what can your mission-critical team learn about human error from the airline industry?

According to the latest reports, the recent 100-million dollar error in one of British Airways’ data centers was not caused by a power surge after all. It was the unfortunate result of human error during routine maintenance. On the flight deck, the airline industry has already embraced an effective and powerful tool for significantly reducing human error: checklists. Could this successful and well-proven system have made a difference in the company’s data center disaster? We have to answer this with a resounding “YES”!

Let’s take a look at the similarities of Flight Operations and the data center world. In both environments, employees deal with incredibly complex, expensive and redundant machinery. There are serious consequences when a mistake is made, including significant monetary losses, customer dissatisfaction and, in some cases, the loss of life. Unlike on the flight deck however, mission-critical teams often focus only on systems and redundant hardware, and not on the sometimes flawed human interaction with these systems. Operations teams in a data center must frequently rely on inadequate, generic procedures, engineering diagrams and one lines. These poorly written and often outdated procedures are sometimes thrown together hastily in a 3-ring binder during commissioning, with very little effort to actually verify that they work and are simple to follow. It should come as no surprise that an inexperienced maintenance worker inadvertently throws the switch, turns off the power to a data center and causes major losses for the data center client – a nightmare scenario for all involved.

Not Simply Paper to PDF

This is where an interactive digital checklist system, such as the one developed by ICARUS Ops, makes a tremendous difference. The maintenance worker easily completes his routine tasks via tablet – no digging in 3-ring binders, relying on memory or on co-workers. Imagine the benefits of such a system when an actual emergency occurs. New airliners are equipped with modern digital checklists systems to help make it simple for pilots to complete every step, every time for both normal and emergency procedures. Isn’t it time other mission-critical environments stepped up their efforts to avoid the serious consequences of human error? With the ICARUS Ops system, you don’t simply go from paper to PDF, but to a complex, error-trapping and truly interactive digital system.   

Forward Thinking Pays Off

Chris Crosby of Compass Datacenters is one of the most forward thinking people in the data center industry. Although his company is already building its latest data centers with solid engineering and redundant Tier III systems, he realized that it is essential to mitigate human error by providing the necessary operational tools for preventing a catastrophic event. With his backing and support, ICARUS Ops has invested more than three years into building and maturing an interactive digital checklist system. As a result, new Compass data centers are delivered with advanced operational procedures stored in our ICARUS Ops system and available at the fingertips to all relevant personnel both online and offline.


The ICARUS Ops team has many years of experience in both the aviation and data center industry. Let us help YOU move towards eliminating human error by implementing the following suggestions:

  • Allocate well-trained personnel and sufficient time to accurately write and test all normal operations (MOPs, SOPs) and any anticipated abnormal procedures (EOPs). Ensure that they can be easily completed by the mission-critical operations team. Capture pictures and videos whenever necessary to further aid personnel. The ICARUS Ops system allows you to do so quickly and easily.
  • If your facility is already up and running, begin by improving all normal and abnormal procedures. Run through the daily and emergency procedures to see if they actually make sense and are adequate during a catastrophic event.
  • Procedures should be available at the technician’s fingertips and not gather dust in a 3-ring binder on a shelf somewhere. The ICARUS Ops interactive digital checklist system uses mobile technology, providing step-by-step guidance. It allows you to embed pictures, videos, animations and even links to whole manuals.
  • Monitored completion and compliance are essential in a mission-critical environment. Well written procedures are of no value if they are not followed.
  • Use the system every day during rounds checks and conduct regular practice walks of abnormal and normal procedures to ensure that they are understood, constantly improved and that the team is proficient in their usage. The ICARUS Ops digital checklist system allows for continuous improvement by allowing personnel to enter a suggestion into the system while they are completing a checklist.
  • Use your high quality procedures and procedure system as the baseline for your training syllabus.

For more information on how to keep your data center clients safe from expensive failures, please email or give us a call. Our experienced and knowledgeable team looks forward to helping YOU avoid the next costly disaster!