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How to Improve Your Incident Management

Imagine the following scenario. You are going to work, like any other day. But today is unlike other days because you are scheduled to meet with an important investor. Ultimately you are hoping to strike a partnership that could help lay the foundation for the future of your company. Needless to say, there can be no room for errors or incidents, whatsoever.


Errors happen. People can recover from errors and mishaps. But incidents can be a completely different story.


My day job isn’t writing cybersecurity articles. The company I work for sometimes experiences catastrophic network downtime. When an incident arises that affects our ability to access network devices we depend upon to perform our duties, everything comes screeching to a halt.


Entire shifts get sent home without pay. A day’s work gets backlogged. The flow of work orders we fill and shipments gets delayed. We can’t receive or process a single service request. We have to explain to our customers why there’s a delay, and why we aren’t shipping within the timeframe of our customer service guarantee. In other words, the entire train gets derailed.


Our company doesn’t have a localized incident management plan. This means, there is no incident tracking software, so it’s up to an off-site IT service management personnel to come and assess the incident and remediate it. This is why restoring service for both the customer and our workforce gets delayed.

Sometimes these proverbial train wrecks are unavoidable due to unforeseeable circumstances. But the amount of time it takes to get the train rolling again is largely up to you.


It’s times like these when everyone who is involved with a company; from the consumers, and employees, to the stakeholders can appreciate a well- put-together Incident Management System.


Therefore, let’s identify what exactly is an incident, the difference between incidents & problems, the reasons for implementing an Incident Management protocol within your company, and give you some of the best-recommended solutions for effective long-term management.


What is an Incident?


Everyone reading this section may not be on the same page. An incident is when one of the services provided by your organization, including internal services, doesn't operate as designed. For example, the app you utilize during a job duty might keep crashing, or you suddenly can longer connect to a database. The network crashes. Whatever the case may be, when a service goes down, that’s an incident.


Callers and service desk agents typically document an incident after it has been reported. Ongoing incidents are followed until they have been resolved and closed. Some Incident Management Tool platforms offer pre-built standard solutions for resolving repeated problems expeditiously.


It’s important to evaluate the urgency and overall effect when deciding how to rank ongoing incidents. As an example, high-priority incidents should be addressed as quickly as possible, and other incidents can be moved to a lower priority due to their severity being less significant to a newer and more significantly impactful incident. You may want to consider incorporating a priority matrix for incidents.



What Is Incident Management?


In short, Incident Management is a systemic procedure of IT Service Management (ITSM). The goal of this approach is to promptly restore the services provided by your company to normal performance with little to no damaging effect on your primary business.


This implies that issues occasionally depend on short-term solutions while the core issue is discovered later. Both the incident's occurrence and resolution must be documented before the incident can be marked as concluded and closed out within the system if you helped solve the caller's issue.



The Difference Between a Change, an Incident, and a Problem


Incidents are temporary interruptions of IT services that your company provides, but a problem or modification is more substantial than that. A modification involves activities such as a simple change such as replacing an employee’s computer, updating software, or even an extensive change such as replacing the computers in an entire department.


A problem is a persistent interruption. For example, when a network device becomes inoperable every week, it’s no longer considered useful if you must continually repair it. If a conflicting software update causes unstable conditions, it is then imperative to record any such reported problems in your Information Management Platform to locate the root cause.


The results are a huge contrast to merely depending on a systems administrator, whose only approach is to fiddle around on the network, without a specialty or experience with incident management.



Why Incident Management Procedures Are Necessary


Incident Management procedures aid in limiting and mitigating service disruptions that can negatively impact the company, while speedily and efficiently remediating the issue so that the customer’s service expectations are maintained.


With a well-established, but ever-updating plan, you’re at a significantly higher advantage than those who do not. An industry survey reported that $5,600 per minute is the average cost of network downtime. My company suffered similar losses each day we experienced a total loss of connectivity. The ensuing domino effect can be substantial.


It is very important to establish a strategic and systematized game plan for effective and fast incident affirmation. This includes strict scrutiny of the event to definitively identify it, followed by proper documentation.


The playbook must be interpretable and feature a simple runbook to help guide even Administrative clerks through some of the most common issues your customers experience, overseeing the continuous administration and reporting of incidents.



How to streamline Incident Management


You probably will not be able to automate the complete incident response, but many tools that can help shorten and simplify the procedure by sourcing information while your unit emphasizes its efforts to manage the incident, making sure everyone receives the proper notifications and examining the data to identify trends.


Handling your incident plan can be a long process that oftentimes contains inaccuracies by slip-ups due to miscalculations and oversight. A good automated incident management tool can help you generate timelines, track team members, offer a central location to communicate with your fellow teammates, incorporate pre-built workflows, and perform postmortems with analytics and post-incident metrics to help make improvements for preventing and managing the next incident.


Think about it. If a company is not in the habit of practicing due diligence, its next downtime could be its last. Facebook lost around $65 million during the 6 to 7 hours of its downtime last year, and the profit loss would have struck a fatal blow to the social media giant without incident management.

An article by Jesse McGraw

Edited by Anne Caminer

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