A Guide to Incident Management

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Does your business have an incident management plan for unexpected incidents?

IT-dependent organizations often encounter unexpected incidents that cause disruptions in their service delivery. Your website crashes, or the office printer breaks down, interrupting normal operations. You must respond to incidents swiftly to minimize financial and reputational loss. This is where incident management comes in. It helps you give your customers and team members the solution they need as soon as possible.

In this article, I’ll explain the importance of incident management and how it works. I’ll also recommend the three best incident management tools out there. But first, let’s define the term!

What Is Incident Management?

Incident management describes measures to monitor, assess, and resolve disruptive IT incidents. It includes tasks like:

  • Creating policies and workflows for different incident types
  • Developing a knowledge base of resolution methods
  • Defining roles and responsibilities for incident management team members

It aims to restore business services and minimize impact. Additionally, these measures focus on both resolving incidents and preventing them from reoccurring.

I’ll now explain the primary benefits of implementing incident management in your organization.

Why Is Incident Management Important?

Every incident potentially risks business service delivery and quality. Incidents also compromise an organization’s security and may result in data theft. In addition to preventing incidents, incident management also helps you:

Respond Efficiently

You can use the knowledge from resolving previous incidents to mitigate new ones. Guesswork is eliminated and makes resolution faster and more efficient. 

Be Transparent

You can create an established guideline for handling incidents. For example, you can organize and prioritize incidents. Employees and service users can contact IT support and track status updates.

Improved Service Quality

Incident management software registers every reported incident and lets you track metrics to measure the recurring incidents. It also helps you track the average time it takes to resolve each incident. This data gives valuable insights into service quality and how to improve it further. You can also set appropriate customer expectations in your service level agreements (SLAs).

I’m sure you’re eager to start implementing this approach, so let me explain how it works!

How Does Incident Management Work?

An infographic image of the incident management process.
You must perform a variety of tasks when an incident occurs.

To understand how incident management works, let’s take a look at the 5 phases involved in the process. I’ll show you what your incident management team does during each phase. 

Phase 1—Incident Detection

As the name suggests, this phase helps you detect and classify an incident. Your team will:

  1. Detect incidents manually or through user reports
  2. Log the incident
  3. Create categories/subcategories to classify the incident

Phase 2—Incident Prioritization

This phase helps you appropriately assess the next steps needed based on incident severity. To this end, your incident management team takes the following steps:

  1. Prioritizes incidents based on criticality 
  2. Prioritizes critical issues to minimize service downtime for employees and customers 
  3. Addresses critical issues first for improved outcomes

Phase 3—Incident Notification and Escalation

Next, the team should work to resolve issues and notify you. To do that, they:

  1. Alert proper personnel and escalates the incident based on category 
  2. Resolve and logs minor incidents
  3. Notify IT teams and managers about major incidents

Phase 4—Incident Investigation and Recovery

After that, the IT team will look deeper into the issue. They’ll:

  1. Work to diagnose the problem and identify the best solutions
  2. Restore business operations
  3. Analyze the problem  to prevent a recurrence 

Phase 5—Incident Closure

At this point, the threat should be over. All that’s left to do is create a report about the incident and its resolution. So, the team:

  1. Reviews the incident management process and prepares an incident report 
  2. Shares the report with customers and stakeholders to build trust 

You need the right software to implement the above process in your organization. With so many solutions available, how do you choose the right one? I’ve given some suggestions below.

How to Choose the Right Incident Management Software

Every incident management software has unique features and functionalities. To determine which tools you prioritize, you must identify your most relevant and prevalent incidents. You must also know the incident management process you plan to follow. Finally, you should consider how your existing systems will integrate with your incident management software.

Additional qualities you should prioritize in your incident management software include:

  • Openness: Easy for all team members to access relevant information on time
  • Adaptability: Customize the software for workflow changes and new software integrations
  • Reliability: Software is cloud-based with automatic data backup and recovery 

Now that you know what features to look for, I’ll recommend the top 3 incident management software options you can pick today.

Best Incident Management Software

Popular solutions among organizations worldwide include:

1. Atlassian JISM

Image of the Atlassian logo.
Atlassian solutions can handle the most complex incidents!

Jira Service Management by Atlassian is an incident management solution for developers and IT operations teams. It aggregates incident alerts and queries from all your IT systems into a single central dashboard. Your team can:

  • Categorize, prioritize and send alerts from a central system
  • Generate an incident timeline for full problem visibility
  • Use incident response templates to plan for upcoming service disruptions 

2. GFI HelpDesk

Image of GFI HelpDesk's logo.
An all-in-one solution for support issues!

GFI HelpDesk is a cloud-based central incident management system for efficient resolutions. With GFI, customers can easily contact you via live chat once they’re on your webpage. You can create a knowledge base to provide solutions to common issues. GFI HelpDesk lets you monitor client queries and collaborate to resolve them. GFI HelpDesk’s main features include:

  • Simple user interface allows clients to send messages without difficulty
  • Multiple assistance options like ticket submission, live chat support, and knowledge base
  • Helpful collaboration features like chat and comments for faster ticket resolution
  • Integrated rule configuration feature for automatic ticket responses 

3. ServiceNow ITSM

Image of ServiceNow logo.
Employees and customers will never experience unnecessary downtimes!

ServiceNow ITSM is the largest cloud platform for end-to-end incident management service delivery. It utilizes machine learning algorithms to assign problems to the correct team automatically. ServiceNow ITSM’s key features include:

  • Multiple channels for users to connect with IT staff, including a self-service portal, chatbot, email, phone, and mobile
  • Dedicated dashboard for major incident management
  • Built-in AI-powered assistant that helps team members with incident resolution
  • Helpful collaboration features like visual task boards and video conferencing for remote collaboration

You can choose from the above solutions to develop efficient systems to manage incidents. And now, to summarize.

Final Thoughts

Incident management includes measures to monitor, assess, and resolve disruptive IT incidents. It ensures your business operations proceed smoothly at all times. Your customers are more satisfied, and your employees are productive. 

You must manage incidents, because this helps you respond efficiently, be transparent, and improve your service quality. Having an incident management team with well-defined policies and responsibilities is a must. 

I also discussed the process your team must follow when an incident occurs. You can even use incident management software to help you with this process. Choose between Atlassian JISM, GFI HelpDesk, and ServiceNow ITSM to help make your processes more efficient.

Do you have more questions about incident management? See the FAQs and Resources sections below for more details!

FAQ

What are the different incident types? 

Three main incident types occur— major, repetitive, and complex. Major incidents have a significant business impact on service delivery but rarely occur. Repetitive incidents occur frequently but often have less impact on service delivery. Conversely, complex incidents are harder and take longer to resolve. Their impact may vary, but they typically require senior-level technicians to handle them. 

How to improve the incident management process?

You can manage incidents better by reviewing your incident response plan. Take proactive measures like defining processes and deploying the right software. You can also create a central incident tracking system to learn from past incidents.

What is the incident manager’s role?

The incident manager is at the forefront of ensuring prompt incident resolution. They designs the business’s incident management process to meet industry standards and manage personnel with different skill sets. Additionally, they coordinate with other teams. They’re the escalation point for major incidents

What is the most important step in incident management?

Preparation is the key to successful incident management. Every business must have an incident management plan that clearly outlines the procedures and team members’ responsibilities when incidents occur. Equip your team with the right tools and guidelines to effectively address every incident.

What are the differences between incident management vs problem management?

An incident is an event that causes a service disruption for a business. On the other hand, problems are the incident’s root cause. Incident management seeks to address an incident in real-time, immediately after it occurs. Meanwhile, problem management addresses the underlying causes and prevents the same incidents from reoccurring.

Resources

TechGenix: Newsletters

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TechGenix: Article on Risk Management Software

Discover the top risk management software for your business.

TechGenix: Article on Enterprise Risk Management

Read more about managing risks to improve your business profitability.

TechGenix: Article on Crisis Management

Learn how to develop an effective crisis management plan for your business.

TechGenix: Article on Risk Management Tools 

Explore some top tools to help you minimize risks in your business.

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