What is Incident Management?

Incident management generally encompasses the entire technical and organizational process of responding to identified or suspected security incidents or operational disruptions in IT areas and related preparatory processes and measures. These can be direct technical malfunctions (e.g., defective printer or paper jam), interruptions, or specific attacks on the IT infrastructure that can cause or are already causing an interruption in service or a reduction in the agreed quality. 

Incident management must take both legal and organizational aspects into account here. After all, the incidents can disrupt the company's day-to-day operations. The aim is to ensure that employees receive help as quickly as possible in rectifying the fault and that service performance is restored as quickly as possible. At best, without any negative impact on the company's day-to-day operations and core business. Consequently, incident management is also an ITSM (IT Service Management) process. Some ITSM tools can use standard solutions to resolve recurring incidents quickly.

If an incident occurs, it is registered, and a solution is developed, which must be documented. If the problem has been solved and the employee has been assisted, the incident and the corresponding request/ticket can be closed.

Advantages of Incident Management

Benefits include improved productivity and efficiency in resolving incidents, as the relevant service desk staff use the same processes to handle and resolve a ticket for an incident. Furthermore, by documenting the solutions, this knowledge can be accessed and incidents can be resolved more quickly.

By processing incidents in the form of tickets, your service desk staff always have an overview of the tickets that still need to be processed. The order in which incidents are handled can be prioritised according to their importance and impact on work and service. This gives your staff confidence in the consistency of your IT service and ultimately leads to a higher quality of service.

In addition, incident management provides you with more transparency and security.

Your employees can track the progress of each ticket and the current status of it. Moreover, every incident will be registered and documented in the ITSM software. This way you can evaluate the available data and gain a better insight into the service quality. Sources of errors and problems can thus be identified, or you can check in which areas your service desk has potential for improvement.

Furthermore, the ITSM process gives you better insight into your service-level agreements (SLAs) and whether they are being adhered to. This enables you to quickly determine whether there is a need for action in an area.

Below are some incident management best practices that have proven helpful when integrating incident management:

1. It is important that all incidents that occur, regardless of importance, urgency or difficulty, are documented and recorded by your service desk staff in your chosen database. ITSM systems offer a good opportunity to record all these incidents.

2. It is essential that all relevant data is logged in your system. Your employees should carefully record all essential details and not be careless. In this way, accurate evaluations can be created, and the processing and resolution of incidents can be tracked in detail.

3. Documentation and logging should also be consistent and clear in this context. Incidents should be sensibly divided into categories and subcategories and recorded to ensure a quick overview and the ability to quickly search for specific incidents.

4. By recording well-functioning solution paths for regular or recurrent incidents, service desk employees can also repeatedly fall back on standard solutions and quickly resolve these incidents. This means that a solution does not have to be worked out frequently. This is particularly useful for the efficient handling of incidents that arise.

5. To ensure that the above points are successful, your team should act quickly and consistently. You should ensure that your employees use uniform processing and resolution methods to ensure consistent quality. It is beneficial if your service desk staff use the standard solution paths listed above and carefully log new incidents.

The steps of an incident management process

The steps of an incident management process are: 1) identification, 2) notification & escalation, 3) investigation & diagnosis, 4) resolution, and 5) closure.

1. Incident Identification, logging, and categorization: The identification phase is when the incident is first detected. This can be done manually or through automation. Once the incident is detected, it must be logged into the incident management system. The log should include all relevant information about the incident, such as a description, time of occurrence, and affected systems. The incident should then be categorized based on its severity and impact.

2. Incident notification & escalation:  The notification phase is when the incident is communicated to the appropriate individuals or teams. This again can be done manually or through automation. The incident may need to be escalated to a higher-level team if it cannot be resolved by the initial responders.

3. Investigation and diagnosis: The investigation and diagnosis phase is when the root cause of the incident is determined. This can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Once the root cause is determined, a resolution can be developed.

4. Incident resolution: The resolution phase is when the incident is actually resolved. This can involve restoring service, implementing a workaround, or providing a fix. To say an incident is resolved once the impacted service starts working again as it should. Once the incident is resolved, it must be verified and tested to ensure that it will not recur.

5. Incident closure: The closure phase is when the incident is closed out in the incident management system. This usually includes documenting the final resolution and completing any required paperwork.

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