Incident Management is one of the subcategories of ITSM (Information Technology Service Management).
All IT organizations work on delivering IT services to customers. The group of all the activities involved in this delivery process forms the core of ITSM. It has four distinct stages as follows:
Each of these phases has an exclusive set of processes associated with it. The conglomeration of all these processes in each stage is called Information Technology Service Management or ITSM.
Let us consider a scenario where a particular process from one of these stages is not performing ideally. It will have an impact on the quality of the end service provided. This dip in process performance is called an Incident. Incident Management addresses these process performance issues to ensure perfect quality of service. It plays a vital role in the overall output efficiency of an organization by aptly addressing all the performance issues. Thus, it holds a crucial place in the organizational structure.
Having an effective Incident Management system has the following benefits for an organization.
For an Incident Management system to work effectively, it must follow a systematic step-by-step process. Let us have an in-detail look into these steps.
Incident Identification and Recording: This is the first step in any Incident Management system. In this step, the incident is identified and is logged into a register. The following details should be there in this register
These details should be tracked and recorded in the first step.
Incident Categorization: The incident has to be categorized based on its nature. This will help to find patterns in the nature of incidents.
Incident Prioritization: This part involves understanding the impact of an incident on the workflow. The number of people that would be directly affected by it. In which segment of the organization does the incident impact the most. Based on all these factors, the incident has to be prioritized.
Responding to the incident: This part involves all the activities carried out to resolve the incident's ill effects. It mainly includes the following steps:
This process flow structure should be maintained for incident management.
This means a good understanding of the risks faced by the organization. Without a complete understanding of this, it is not possible to successfully manage the incident. These risks can arise from various areas. There can be an online security risk threatening an organization's data security. At the same time, there is a risk of fire hazards from non-compliance with safety guidelines. Although these two risks fall into two separate categories, it is essential to have a good understanding of these and how to resolve them.
A periodic risk assessment must be carried out to weed out any security risks.
There will be more than one incident that needs to be addressed most of the time. In these cases, the incidents should be prioritized and resolved based on that. For this purpose, a proper prioritization matrix is required. It helps us in understanding the criticality of the incidents at hand. Thus, the incident with utmost criticality will be addressed first.
The effectiveness and success of an Incident Management team depend on the staff's skill in it. The staff should be trained efficiently to handle the incident management process. Based on the criticality and urgency of the situation, they should be able to adapt themselves to handle it. This plays a pivotal role in the success of the incident management process. For this, the staff should be trained aptly to face the worst-case scenario.
For an incident management system to work efficiently, it is essential to have a proper hierarchy of alert systems. Based on the criticality of the incident, the right person in the hierarchy should get the alert. This system avoids wastage of time and resources by unnecessarily pulling them into incident alerts outside their areas of expertise. So an alert system that targets specific team members to initiate the incident response increases the system's effectiveness.
For any incident management system to work effectively, it should be revised in a timely manner. This can be done perfectly by utilizing the lessons learned from past incident management activities. Each incident response will have a unique characteristic. This will serve as a pointer for improving the system. The nature of the incident and the kind of response will change over time. So, it is essential to update it by using the lessons from the past.
There will be scenarios where the internal team cannot contain the incident. In such cases, help should be sought from a third party promptly. This will reduce the negative impact of the incident to a minimum level. Hence seeking support in a timely manner is critical for a successful incident management system.
The points mentioned above can be used as guidelines for improving the incident management system. Having a perfect incident management team requires years of experience and training. It results from the combined skill set of a group of highly skilled and experienced people.