No matter how well you plan your projects, manage your services and organise your teams, your organisation is bound to face incidents. In our increasingly IT-dependent society, incidents are only becoming more common and more severe. It is more important than ever to make sure your incident management processes and practices are at their peak. So, here are some incident management best practices to help your team have better control over incidents.
What is Incident Management?
Before jumping into some best practices, it is best to clarify what is meant by incident management. While incident management sometimes falls within the categories of risk management, incidents are a term predominantly used in the IT space to refer to any kind of event or occurrence that can disrupt or reduce the quality of a product and/or service.
By extension, incident management is the collection of governing practices that manage the restorative responses and actions to any interruption in service due to issues such as outages or performance limitations. It is also a critical aspect of IT Service Management (ITSM) and is most commonly seen in action through an IT service desk and ticketing system.
To learn more, make sure to read our Introduction to Incident Management.
Without further ado, let us dive into the 8 incident management best practices you can implement today!
Best Practice 1: Identify early and log regularly
While this may seem obvious, it is a critical practice that often goes overlooked. While many teams may not have an issue with documenting incidents as they arise, proper incident management involves taking time to properly identify the potential issues early and log the incidents regularly. While this process of spotting incidents may be tricky, the better a team gets at spotting them early makes sure that they can diagnose and resolve them faster.
Make sure that your teams set aside time to properly examine and monitor project issues frequently which will allow them to log them quickly when they escalate into fully-fledged incidents.
Best practice 2: Input data clearly and in detail
Let’s be honest. No one like inputting data and it can be one of the most painstaking and seemingly inconsequential activities of all. However, making sure your data is clear and in detail is critical to seamless incident management and response as it minimises the time needed to hunt for further detail as well as prevents repeated unnecessary tasks. It is highly valuable to keep your categories clear, consistent and accurate.
If necessary, make sure to spend time reviewing categories with team members to prevent incidents from simply being thrown into the ‘other’ category. Having your data clear and in detail also allows teams to create reports and pull on the most accurate and relevant information during their investigation and review stages.
Best Practice 3: Establish a clear escalation process
While incident escalation is a critical part of incident response, not all organisations have a clear and defined escalation process which can lead to detrimental delays, confusion within teams and further inconvenience to customers. Establishing a clear incident escalation process ensures team members are always aware of what they are specifically accountable for and who they can turn to when incidents escalate beyond their capabilities. It may be helpful to document different escalation processes based on their associated incident category.
Best Practice 4: Build on your knowledge base or diagnostic manual
Not every incident requires teams to complete reinvent the wheel to provide a solution. In fact, many incidents are typically addressed during the initial incident diagnostic stage through simple diagnostic practices. If a solution works, make sure to log it for future reference and add it to your team’s existing knowledge base. Depending on the quantity and complexity of common incidents, teams may benefit from building up a diagnostic manual that allows them to keep to a tried and tested procedure. During period review activities, make sure to take time to build on these knowledge bases and update the diagnostic manuals to allow teams to address issues in the most effective manner possible.
Best Practice 5: Keep on learning and training your teams
The learning and training activities are not just for knowledge bases and diagnostic, but also to improve general practices and processes that may be inefficient or ineffective for the team. With the help of intuitive incident management solutions, teams can pull on historic data and performance metrics to learn more about their incident management performance and drill down certain areas that will require improvement.
But do not just rely on internal data and information. While a formal training session may not always be necessary, there are a wealth of informative tools and resources, from webinars to podcasts and online courses, that teams can benefit from. Taking the time to regularly tap into them ensures teams are always up-to-date on relevant techniques, practices or information that can help improve their incident management activities.
Best Practice 6: Automate your incident management tasks
A lot of tasks in incident management are highly repetitive and can benefit from automation. Be it sending notification updates or sending approval requests, having the right incident management solution allows you to automate a lot of these tasks and saves your team valuable time. While proper incident management still requires frequent reviews, updating and monitoring to minimise mistakes that can get overlooked, automating highly repetitive tasks gives teams the time to focus on more important tasks and optimises the organisation’s time and resources as much as possible.
Best Practice 7: Consolidate your communications
Communication is key and that is all the more true in incident management. When incidents are being flagged and passed between different team members, departments and stakeholders, it is important to make sure that all communications are consolidated onto a single platform to prevent any information gaps. This not only reduces the amount of time wasted looking for information but also significantly improves collaboration activities amongst different teams.
Additionally, teams can benefit from establishing clear communication guidelines. This is similar to the diagnostic manual but it emphasises clearly outlining standard communication procedures to minimise stress and tension during challenging times. It shows teams how they should be communicating, who they should be communicating to and how communications should be documented to prevent critical information from being lost.
Best Practice 8: Keep your stakeholders informed
The benefit of having a clear incident management framework is that it provides complete transparency and control over all incident management related activities. However, this valuable asset should not only be kept to incident management teams but should actively be used to communicate and collaborate with key stakeholders.
Whether that is internal stakeholders such as senior advisors or external stakeholders like clients and vendors, you can significantly improve your incident management response by making sure stakeholders are not only informed but are actively participating in relevant incident management activities in a clear and structured manner.
Take your incident management and ITSM activities to the next level
Incident management is a critical part of effective IT service management. If your organisation is looking to take your ITSM activities to the next level, look no further than pmo365.
pmo365 is a cloud-based all-in-one project portfolio management software that adapts to your organisation’s unique needs by creating bespoke solutions that are fit for purpose, particularly for IT projects. With the power of Microsoft’s Power Platform and a highly qualified team of developers, we not only apply ITSM in our own teams but are also experts at creating ITSM solutions that have the features, flexibility and adaptability you need in an effective ITSM solution.