What is Incident Management?

An IT Service desk acts as a single point of contact between IT team and end users. Businesses adopt ITIL to improve service efficiency and productivity. ITIL service operation covers Incident management techniques whose primary objective is to ensure smooth business operations with minimal or no downtime.Competent Incident management process bridges the communication gap between end users and IT agents. ITIL Incident management process follows a set of best practices for effective incident handling and incident resolution. Let us look at some of the basics of Incident management.

What is an Incident?

An incident is an unexpected disruption to a service. It disturbs the normal operation thus affecting end user’s productivity. An Incident may be caused due to an asset that is not functioning properly or network failure. Examples of Incidents include printer issue, wifi connectivity issue, application lock issue, email service issue, laptop crash, AD authentication error, file sharing issue etc.

Incident vs service request

Service requests are ‘a formal request from a user for something to be provided – for example, a request for information or advice’. The main difference between Incident and service request is that often pre-approved standard changes are classified as service requests which end users request for. For example, UX designer requests for Adobe photoshop software and increase in RAM space. Having an intuitive service catalog to capture this request is recommended.

Incident vs problem

Problem is a series of incidents with an unknown root cause, whereas incident arises as soon as something breaks or stops working disrupting normal service. Incident handling is usually a reactive process whereas problem management is more proactive. Incident management system aims at restoring services quickly whereas problem management aims at finding a permanent fix.

Incident Management Process Flow

Incident Logging

The first step in Incident management is to report the identified incident.This can be done by the end users themselves or agents can do it on their behalf. The IT team needs to capture complete information about the incident using a form template to speed up recovery process. They also need to set up relevant channels for end users to report an issue easily.

Incident Classification

Segment the incidents with appropriate category/sub-category in order to easily identify the right group and agent. Customize incident form with the right fields and set up automated rules for ticket classification, prioritization and assignment and save valuable time in the process. Correct classification of Incidents will help in generating reports faster.

Incident Prioritization

Assigning the right priority to ticket has a direct impact on deciding SLA policy and addressing business critical issues on time. Thus, set up a realistic SLA definition to meet customer commitments.

Investigation and Diagnosis

When an incident is raised, the IT team performs an initial analysis of the same and sends a resolution to the end user. In the event the resolution is not available immediately, they, escalate the incident to tier II & tier III teams for detailed investigation. Components required to identify, analyze, and contain an incident are reviewed. The incident is also associated with the relevant CI (Configuration Item) for faster diagnosis.

Incident Resolution and Closure

One of the primary goals of any IT team is to resolve any incident, coming their way, as soon as possible. Efficient communication about the resolution and closure of the resolved tickets is very important. The team can even automate the process of closing the resolved tickets or the user can do it themselves through the self-service portal.

Checklist for setting up Incident management process flow

Incident management best practices

Easy accessibility

Ensure that you promote your service desk heavily to end users and offer multiple channels such as email, web, mobile app to report an incident. Incident logging becomes more efficient with easily accessible multi-channel IT service desk.

Effective communication strategy

Communicate first response and resolution to end users by sending relevant email notifications. Follow an effective strategy to trigger alerts for ticket updates, replies and status updates.

Automate as much as possible

Identify tasks that can be automated in order to reduce manual work and improve efficiency. Automate email notifications so that agents and end users stay informed.

Motivate your agents

Set clear goals for your team and communicate KPIs that are aligned with business goals. Having said, agents’ morale play a huge role in providing quality service and improving end user satisfaction. Therefore, gamify your IT service desk by creating quests and arcade.

Incident manager roles & responsibilities

An Incident manager is someone who devises and manages the enterprise Incident management process for the organization and adopts the best practices of ITIL within the process. Incident manager is responsible for following tasks

Benefits of Incident management

Incident management system delivers following business benefits

5 DON’Ts of Incident Management

Other Resources