The pitfall of too much incident management

Most companies today invest heavily in information technology that includes IT infrastructure, strategies and processes to enable their business adopt to the different technological trends and to thrive in technology-driven market. Using technology as a means to power a business is no longer a luxury but rather a necessity in order to provide the best value to their customers and at the same time give their business an edge against competitors.

Alongside with this continuous adoption is the need to employ strategies, processes and solutions that helps the organization manage the IT infrastructure. This includes the implementation of Information Technology Service Management (ITSM) which is a general methodology of managing IT driven organization. There are different discipline in ITMS but the most common practice is the use of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL). Because of its elaborate approach on IT processes and procedure, it became the industry standard framework which has a huge following globally.

Part of ITIL is the use of Incident Management (IM) wherein organizations deploys tools for ticketing solution and resources such as service desk team to address immediate needs or issues that requires urgent solution such as server downtime, network issues or any disruption that could potentially impact the delivery of service within the business. IM is a good process especially if the support groups handling the tickets are providing effective response to alleviate each incident cases within the defined service level agreement (SLA). With SLAs, customers or key stakeholder within the organization will be able to determine the effectiveness of a IT strategy, process or solution which then can be used to showcase accomplishment that add value to the business.

Scenario of incident management

Say for example the service desk team is handling 100 tickets per week and all of them were closed within the agreed SLA. That translates to 100% efficiency of the support groups which means, happy customers or good job! Your business was able to deliver value to the organization or customer and reduced potential disruption or downtime that could affect revenue. However, many organization do not realize that, that 100 tickets also translates to 5,200 tickets in a year (based on a 52 week period). It may be small for some depending on the organization size but imagine if that number became 200, 300 or higher per week, the figure drastically changes in a year. The effort exerted by the service desk team or any support group also changes and sometimes resources may not be enough to address the volume of incident cases. So how does the organization respond? Some create a different strategy which normally takes time but in a service-oriented or customer-centric organization the fastest solution is to pump more people and tools as additional resources in order to accommodate incident tickets and to continue providing effective service by ensuring SLAs remains on target.

So where is the pitfall?

Oftentimes, the sheer volume of tickets created are repetitive which is a sign that there is something wrong. There is a bigger picture that needs to be solved. Most of the time, organization present incident management as the baseline for reporting by showing how good they managed the cases as form of achievement. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that even though SLAs remains on target makes the IT solution, process or organization effective. Additionally, pumping more resources to provide quality service through incident management is one way to flush money from the business. The same way of having too much incidents, it no longer creates value to the customers or organization rather it degrades the business capability of delivering the service which affects future growth.

What to focus?

There are so many ways to focus on. Instead of investing heavily on incident management, organization should also consider looking at different strategies, processes and procedures in the ITIL standard framework. Oftentimes, these process are taken for granted and neglected since it is not the usual face-front in the delivery of service. Think about it. It wouldn’t hurt to invest on other areas and devote time implementing it which can definitely help reduce (not eliminate) incidents.

  • Consider the Service Design of the IT infrastructure, strategies and processes then apply necessary adjustments. Try to identify areas where loopholes carry a risk in the business. Prevention is better than cured as they say.
  • Invest in Service Knowledge Management to document IT strategies, processes, and solutions and provide the necessary training to the support groups and key stakeholders. Knowledge is power.
  • Apply and Implement Change Management with care by understanding the appropriate risks and involve the right team within the organization to ensure all areas are covered. Take note that most incidents is a result of a change activities performed in the IT environment.
  • Prioritize Problem Management instead of Incident Management. Repetitive incident cases must be addressed through problem cases and resources must be allocated to focus time, energy and effort to address the bigger picture of the issue.
  • Catalog all IT assets within the organization through Configuration Management. This gives better inventories of all configuration items within the organization for better tracking.

To end

Incident Management is good and there is nothing wrong with it but too much incident management is no longer healthy. It is a waste of resources, cost, energy and time. Look at other areas in the ITSM processes which will definitely improve the organization delivery of IT.

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Written by Harold Candelaria

Is a technology consultant working in a corporate IT service provider company. He’s a tech-savvy and at has interest in different trading and financial instruments.

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