5 Do’s and Don’ts of Incident Management

Posted by on February 20, 2019

5 Do’s and Don’ts of Incident Management

Without Incident Management, chaos reigns.

When services go down or users have issues, it’s through Incident Management that operations are restored, and users get the aid and support they need. Small wonder, then, that Incident Management is often the very first IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service that organizations put in place. This goal of this day-to-day service is to reestablish “normal” services operations quickly after unplanned incidents—ideally with minimal negative impact on both business operations and users.

Tweet this: Before implementing Incident Management within your organization, keep these do's and don't's in mind

Before implementing Incident Management at your organization, you’ll want to understand your current process for resolving Incidents (whether it’s a self-service portal, a service desk, or perhaps a less formalized system) and consider which processes would be most beneficial in the near and distant future. As you think through your Incident Management implementation—or re-think your implementation, if it’s not working smoothly—here are some essential “Do’s and Don’ts” to keep in mind.

DO: Understand Your Maturity

When it comes to Incident Management, understanding your maturity level is essential. Ask yourself: What’s your current state? This helps define what your organization can accomplish. If you aim for lofty, overly ambitious goals, you’ll wind up with poor key performance indicators (KPIs) and frustration. Depending on your maturity level, a reasonable objective may be to start by creating a self-service portal, improving first-call resolution, or—at the very highest levels of maturity—aiming to have zero incidents. Be clear-eyed and realistic when it comes to assessing your current capabilities; this will help you avoid mismatching your capabilities with current challenges. Conquering many smaller goals one at a time can build success for future endeavors, rather than attempting a lot of new concepts all at once.

Tweet this: Understanding your ITSM maturity level is the first crucial step when implementing incident management 

DO: Engage with Users, and Manage Their Experience

Improving how incidents are managed is a worthy, important goal. To this end, always keep customers in mind; they most likely have certain expectations in place for how services will be delivered, and how they’ll receive support. You may also have service level agreements in place.

Keep in mind the many ways support can interact with users and resolve incidents: through a genius bar, self-service portals, a service desk, etc. What experience are you creating for users? Are you choosing an engagement model that makes sense given the nature of your organization and how people work?

DON’T: Focus on ITIL Compliance Over Business Value

As you implement Incident Management, avoid obsessing over ITIL compliance. Yes, you want to follow ITIL best practices—but never focus on ITIL compliance over adherence to your organization’s core business objectives. Make sure your primary focus remains on your end users—ensuring that customers and stakeholders receive the service they require and deserve—and that your Incident Management implementation is serving the business’ strategy and needs.

DON’T: Manage Incidents in a Silo

While you may be implementing ITIL processes one at a time, that does not mean each process occurs in a vacuum. Incidents often arise because of changes; repeated incidents require Problem Management. The ITIL processes are integrated and dynamic. One common mistake is doing Problem Management within the Incident Management process. The primary goal of Problem Management is eradicate incidents entirely, or prevent them from reoccurring. Since the two processes have different desired outcomes, trying to do Problem Management in place of Incident Management could result in a slow response time to incidents, and a disruption to service.

Tweet this: Managing your IT incidents in a silo is detrimental when implementing an incident management strategy 

DO: Select the Right Technology—and Don’t Overcomplicate It

Be smart when it comes to your technology, and make sure it’s working with you—not against you. Your technology should help you automate processes, improve your performance, and achieve ITIL implementation goals. Look for tools that are easily customizable and agile—thinking back to our first “Do” about understanding your maturity level, you’ll want to opt for an enabling technology that will help you with your current capabilities, and also be able to adapt to your needs as they change, grow, and mature.

One final cautionary note: Make sure your technology is only as complex as it needs to be. Every piece of data highlighted on your dashboard should be something you can use to make a decision or provide you with insight. Collect data you can utilize, and communicate with your users so they’re aware why you’re tracking these metrics.

Putting in place these best practices for ITIL Incident Management—and avoiding common pitfalls—allows you to handle your organization’s growth. As more services are offered, incident volume will likely increase, but having the processes, people, and technology firmly in place will help you handle this growth with agility and ease.

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