A Guide to ITIL Incident Management

An incident in Incidental Management refers to an unplanned interruption to a service. Incident management process focuses on restoring the service to the customer as quickly as possible within the agreed service level limits and minimizing any adverse impact on the business. The solution if not permanent, can be a temporary fix or a workaround.
Let’s take an example. Suppose all of a sudden your home internet stops working (this means an incident has occurred). After trouble-shooting all the possible options that you are familiar with you call your service provider’s customer care (service desk). The customer suggests few remedial options and if that doesn’t work they direct you to the technical support team. The technical support team then decides if this is an incident or a problem. 
Difference between an Incident and a problem:
An incident is something that doesn’t work as expected and can have immediate impact on the user. Problem, on the other hand is an incident that reoccurs number of times which may not direct impact on the user. 
Incident Lifecycle:
An incident management process set up a service desk for channelizing all the incidents through a single point of contact for its speedy resolution. 
  • Incident detection and recording - An incident is identified and recorded in a defect tracking tool
  • Initial support by the service desk, classification and prioritization – The incident is classified as per the defined categories and severity (SLA attached for response and resolution) is set. An incident is classified as a service request or service restoration. There is no SLA attached to the service request that can impact the business. But proper remedial steps are taken to process the request. For service restoration it follows next step
  • Investigation and diagnosis – A thorough investigation and diagnosis are done fix or work around. The incident is escalated to higher management if the technical support team fails to provide a solution within desired SLA timeframe
  • Resolution and recovery – Once the issue is identified, take necessary steps for its resolutions. Update the tool with resolution steps. This provides a quick response time when the same issue occurs in the future. Recovery relates to the activities which you take to prevent the reoccurrence of the incident in the future
  • Incident closure – The incident can be marked as ‘closed’ after confirming with the users that the services are up and running as desired
Benefits of Incident Management process:
The major benefits of Incident management process is – 
  • Satisfaction to the customers that there is a process to maintain the quality and reliability of the service
  • Ensures customers that the logged incidents will be taken care of
  • Improves the monitoring system
  • Creates precise Configuration management database (CMDB), which keeps track of all assets, software’s, resources and facilities that exist during that time
  • Timely resolution of the incident reduces the adverse impact on the business
  • Helps to differentiate between incidents and problems. This enables the team to focus on resolving an incident to keep the service up and running
Better staff utilization which increases the efficiency and productivity of the organization. Helps identifying possible enhancements or change required.
Once the incident management process is implemented, the service desk generates a monthly report on the incidents that are logged in a particular month, the type of incident, incidents resolved and closed within the agreed SLA timeframe. This non-technical report depicts a high level picture of the operational activities and highlights any scope of improvement of incident management process.

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