Building a Strong Foundation: The Importance of Implementing an Effective Incident Management Process

05 July 2023

No matter what your ITSM tool of choice is, one of the fundamentals and usually the first to implement is the Incident Management Process, as its purpose in ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) terms is to minimise the negative impact of incidents by restoring normal service operation as quickly as possible. 

So, what is an incident?  It is an unplanned interruption to a service or a reduction in the quality of service. 

Logging, prioritising, and managing incidents is key to resolving them according to your user and customer expectations.  How you manage incidents should be consistent and will benefit the users and customers of the process in the longer term. 

Dealing with incidents in this way allows those involved in resolving them to be clear about their responsibility within the overall Incident Management Process. 

And what makes a good Incident Management Process? 

Firstly, the tool you log an incident should provide links to configuration items and other ITIL processes such as change, problem, and other knowledge documents that enable a quick and efficient diagnosis to speed up recovery.  Although referred to as “IT issues,” unplanned outages have a more significant impact on revenue than is commonly recognised. The result is a substantial reduction in revenue for the affected company. Based on the 2019 Reliability and Hourly Cost of Downtime Trends Survey conducted by ITIC, approximately 47% of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) estimate that a single hour of downtime translated to £77,000 in lost revenue and decreased end-user productivity. For large enterprises, these costs can reach millions, particularly in data-driven sectors such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and utilities. An IBM Global Services study found that the average revenue loss per hour for an unplanned application outage is around £2.1 million pounds. Additionally, IT disruptions can have a ripple effect throughout the entire service chain of an organisation, impacting its customers and community. 

Automation can speed up recovery by using rule-driven logic and machine learning to automatically assign incidents to the correct support team and using playbooks to help the Service Desk ask the right questions of the end user.  This approach can significantly improve the first-time fix rate and accelerate the diagnosis, directing the incident to the right team.  Research indicates that incident automation can lead to a significant reduction in the meantime to resolution (MTTR), allowing IT teams to restore normal service operations faster.  Additionally, leveraging monitoring tools to identify potential incidents before they occur enables technical teams to be proactive ahead of the customers in resolving the incident before the customer reports it.  This improves response times, customer experience and helps save costs. 

Collaboration between the Service Desk and other teams involved in the process is also a key part of a successful incident resolution, and the effective cooperation between IT teams and the Service Desk can significantly improve incident resolution time. Ensuring updates are recorded promptly in the incident log ensures that the customer is kept informed and updated on the status of their issue.  Overall, this will reduce the number of times the customer chases an incident and reduce calls or emails to the Service Desk, allowing them to serve more customers.  And this is backed up by a recent survey which found that a majority of respondents believed better collaboration between IT teams and the Service Desk improved customer satisfaction. 

Knowledge, as they say, is power.  But too much knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Having the right level of knowledge documentation allows customers to self-serve and resolve their own issues without the need to contact the Service Desk as the first port of call.  A well-configured and categorised knowledge base assists the Service Desk in finding known errors, associated documents, fault-diagnosing articles, and much more in a timely manner to better serve the end customer and increase the first-time fix rate. Organisations with a well-organised knowledge base see a meaningful reduction in incident escalations to higher support tiers, resulting in cost savings.  Furthermore, companies with a mature knowledge management system achieve an important improvement in first-time fix rate. 

In conclusion, well-designed Incident Management is a critical process in the overall ITIL journey for all companies, regardless of how big or small. 

For more information on how to implement an effective Incident Management Process or to speak to one of our Service Management consultants about how we can help deliver your ITIL journey and improve the customer experience, get in touch today!