Incident Management can be defined as the steps taken to ensure that IT problems affecting an experience are identified and resolved as soon as possible to prevent them from disrupting operations and performance.
It’s one of the main functions of any IT helpdesk. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what an IT Incident is, the basics of Incident Management and how it works.
What is Incident Management?
To better understand what Incident Management is, Imagine yourself in this scenario:
It’s Monday morning. You’ve arrived to work an hour early to prepare for a very important video call with a prospective client. You and your sales team have been working relentlessly to onboard this client for 3 months, so it’s crucial the meeting goes well. But as soon as you get into the office, you notice that your PC isn’t working, and neither is your webcam.
You’re stressed because you need access to your computer for the video call, but nothing is working. So, you start panicking, looking through troubleshooting solutions on every IT forum online. But you can’t help feeling like every search is taking you further from the solution instead of closer to it. You start wishing you had someone that you could call on to fix your problem.
That’s what Incident Management is for. Having an Incident Management process and a designated Incident owner for your business will help you resolve IT issues as soon as possible before they cause a bigger problem.
The Incident Management process summarised
The Incident Management process encompasses the procedures and actions taken by IT teams to respond to and resolve any Incidents that occur. This includes how the Incident is identified and communicated, as well as who is responsible for responding.
The Incident Management process isn’t typically created by individual organisations. Rather, it’s based upon commonly known industry best practices, slightly altered to suit the organisation’s individual needs. However, before further delving into Incident Management, there are a few key definitions that we should explain.
What is an Incident?
An Incident is any unplanned event that interferes with the normal delivery of IT service or causes a significant reduction in the quality of an IT service. While Incidents are not totally unavoidable, organisations should try their best to prevent them from occurring to ensure that business operations run smoothly.
But what counts as an Incident?
An Incident can simply refer to a component within a business IT environment that isn’t working properly or at all. The main objective of an Incident Management process is to ensure that IT issues are fixed as quickly as possible before they spiral out of control and further affect performance or operations.
Examples of Incidents
- Laptop or mobile device issues
- Wi-Fi connections not working
- The office printer breaks
- Problems with access to a corporate network
- Email delivery issues
- A business application crashing
Why is Incident Management important?
It’s always been important that businesses have Incident Management processes in place. But now it’s more important than ever as we find ourselves living in a digital-first world fuelled by technology. Nowadays, software and the cloud govern almost all business functions, enabling staff to work collaboratively from anywhere and giving them the ability to conduct video conferences online.
All these critical business functions have one thing in common. They all rely on your business’s IT systems performing well. When the technology enabling businesses to perform these functions goes down, it can be extremely costly to them. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is approximately $5,600 per minute, which equates to well over $310K per hour.
So minimising IT downtime is crucial to profitability and efficiency. One way this can be done is by having an Incident Management plan in place. Incident Management ensures that the way a business responds to and manages Incidents is both quick and effective Incident. It ensures that all the IT problems that a business encounters are recorded, communicated, and resolved promptly.
A clear Incident Management plan enables your IT support teams to reduce IT downtime and empower your entire workforce to remain as productive as possible. It can also help them to identify the root cause of problems to prevent them from happening again, improving the reliability of your IT environment. When technology is reliable, employees can stay productive.
How do businesses respond to Incidents?
Identifying and responding to IT Incidents can be complex and chaotic. However, every business today relies on tech in some way. So, every business must develop a reliable Incident Management and response plan to deal with their tech issues as they arise.
We recommend utilising a proven framework like ITIL Incident to build your response plan. ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is the most widely adopted framework standardising the planning, delivery, management and maintaince of IT services and lifecycles. The ITIL Incident Management process provides a proven and defined process for handling Incidents and helps your business Incident improve the way it responds and manages IT issues.
So, what exactly are ITIL’s core steps for Incident Management?
What are ITIL’s Core steps to Incident Management?
1. Identifying the Incident
As you’ll know, an issue can’t be resolved unless it’s identified first. And so, the first step in every Incident Management response plan is identifying the Incident. This can come in the form of a user noticing an IT fault and notifying the helpdesk. It can also be picked up through monitoring by the desk themselves.
As you can imagine, these Incident alerts can accumulate over time, especially if your organisation is big. Your helpdesk can easily become overwhelmed with Incident alerts coming in from different areas across your business. This is why the most efficient helpdesks use ITSM solutions that integrate alerting and reporting tools to create coordinated Incident responses, like ServiceNow or Freshdesk.
ServiceNow and Freshdesk are both cloud-based service desk systems for things like ITSM and Customer Service Management (CSM). They’re designed to simplify and streamline the entire Incident Management process, from identification to Incident resolution.
2. Logging the Incident
Once the Incident has been identified, it gets logged by the service desk.
The service desk usually begins the process of logging the Incident by noting the data and time, the name of the user who has notified them of the Incident, and a brief description of what’s wrong.
After the service desk has gathered this crucial information, they carry out a process known as Incident classification. Incident classification enables the service desk to understand what kind of issue has been identified by the user and the magnitude of the issue. In this stage, the service desk wants to determine whether the Incident is only affecting one person, multiple people or the whole organisation.
Incident classification also enables the service desk to identify whether the issue is a one-off or a reoccurring issue. This helps the service desk execute the next stage of Incident logging and Incident prioritisation. Incident prioritisation is the process of measuring the urgency of an Incident. The urgency of an Incident will usually be ranked from “high” to “low” level depending on what the issue is and the number of users and business functions it affects.
3. Investigation and Diagnosis
After the Incident has been identified and logged, the service desk typically shifts its focus towards resolving the Incident.
This step usually involves the affected user(s) discussing the Incident with a member of the support desk, who will then carryout a brief troubleshooting and diagnosis. The assigned engineer will have to figure out whether there’s a quick fix to the issue that’s been reported or if more in-depth resolution is required.
For example, if the Incident is likely to be software-related, then service desk members may start with recommendations to restart the device or application if the user hasn’t already done so.
If a quick fix solves the Incident, the service desk will update the status of the Incident as resolved and the support ticket will be closed. However, if there isn’t an immediate fix that works, the Incident will progress to the next stage – Incident assignment.
4. Incident Assignment
If further work is required, the service desk will delegate the Incident to a specialist technician to perform an in-depth investigation and discover Incident the root cause. Once the technician has identified the root of the Incident, they will start repairing the issue.
5. Incident Resolution
This step involves the service desk receiving notice that the specialist who was handling the fix that it has been assessed, repaired, and tested, assuring that the fault has now gone. . If the issue is gone, the service desk confirms that the Incident has been resolved.
6. Incident Closure
At this stage, the Incident is closed, and the Incident Management process ends.
Get support on your Incident Management process
Learn more about how an integrated and optimised cloud-based ServiceNow platform can empower your organisation to streamline Incident Management.
848 has a dedicated ServiceNow practice experienced in deploying modern ITSM applications that streamline ITSM processes and improve user experiences. We can also handle your Incident Management process on your behalf. Speak to our team about our range of flexible managed services and support packages or learn more by clicking here.
Thulani is a digital executive and technical writer. He researches new and emerging IT solutions and constructs relevant content that is both informative and easy to digest. Thulani writes articles that provides clear insights for business users.