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What is Incident Management?

You’re in early today, and you need to prepare for an important meeting. However, the printer is broken. Some kind of paper jam again. These kinds of incidents can disrupt your organization’s core  business if they’re not handled properly. But that’s what Incident Management is for: fixing disruptions, so you and your organization’s other callers get the help they need as soon as possible.

In short, Incident Management is a process of IT Service Management (ITSM) that’s focused on returning the performance of your organization’s services to normal as quickly as possible. Ideally, in a way that has little to no negative impact on your core business. This means incidents sometimes rely on temporary workarounds, while you identify the root problem of an incident afterwards.

Incidents are logged, and the process of solving them is recorded. Has the caller of the incident been helped? Then the incident can be resolved and closed. By handling incidents this way, callers know what’s happening and when. Also, nothing will be forgotten in a mailbox or pile of post-its. This gives your organization’s callers more certainty about the continuity of your (IT) services.

By actively registering all incidents in your ITSM tool, your organization can gain valuable insights via monitoring and reporting. For instance, which type of printer gives your callers the most trouble? Or which type of incidents repeatedly aren’t resolved on time?

What is an incident?

An incident is a single event in which one of your organization’s (internal) services is not performing as desired. For instance, a broken printer, or a PC that doesn’t properly boot. According to the principles of ITIL, a framework for setting up processes within an IT organization, callers or service desk employees log the incident after it’s been reported. Open incidents are monitored until they are resolved and/or closed. In some ITSM tools, you can use standard solutions to quickly resolve incidents that occur repeatedly.

Most service organizations also make use of urgency and impact when determining how to prioritize currently opened incidents. For instance, a high urgency and impact lead to a high severity. These types of incidents should be processed as fast as possible. If an incident has a low severity, it may become less important than more pressing incidents. Read more about setting up a priority matrix.

How is an incident different from a change or problem?

While an incident concerns a brief disruption to one of your organization’s (IT) services, a change or problem is bigger than that. In ITSM, a change concerns activities such as replacing someone’s workstation (a simple change) or even replacing a whole department’s workstations (an extensive change).

In ITSM, a problem is used to register recurring interruptions of your organization’s IT infrastructure. For instance, if one printer breaks down every week, it’s no longer efficient to fix it every week. In that case, it’s better to register a problem in your ITSM tool and find the underlying cause.

How does Incident Management relate to ITIL?

In the ITIL framework, which stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, Incident Management is part of the Service Operation lifecycle stages. This is one of the five lifecycle stages of the ITIL framework. Service Operation focuses on ensuring that there are robust best practices that support responsive services. Curious about the ITIL framework? Read more about ITIL.

5 best practices for Incident Management

  • TOPdesk has a lot of experience in Incident Management. You could even say it’s our core business. Over the years, we’ve come up with several best practices for Incident Management, that make implementing this process a breeze. Here are the five most important ones:
  • Log everything: no matter how urgent an incident is, or how important the caller, register every incident in your organization’s ITSM tool.
  • Fill in everything: at least fill in every mandatory field. This best practice can be particularly useful when making reports, and when processing incidents as efficiently as possible.
  • Keep your categorizations tidy: clear out categories and subcategories that are rarely used in your ITSM tool. Also use options like ‘Other’ as little as possible.
  • Maintain an up-to-speed team: ensure all your service desk employees are following the same troubleshooting procedures right from the offset.
  • Log and use standard solutions: don’t reinvent the wheel time after time. Log effective procedures for incidents that sometimes reappear. Want to go even further? Shift left with your service organization.

Want to learn more? Read about Incident Management on our blog.

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