When something breaks in IT, Incident Management is the process that comes to the rescue. Singularly focused on getting interrupted IT services restored to customers as soon as possible, the Incident Management process is owned by the Service Desk. In some organizations, the heroes of the Service Desk take calls, emails, portal submissions, texts, and even tweets from customers experiencing incidents all day, every day.

Perhaps because Incident Management is so routine, it’s often overlooked when it comes time to make process improvements (this, friends, is when it devolves into fire-fighting). Let’s break that habit and start giving Incident Management the attention it deserves. Here is some low hanging fruit to get you started with improving your organization’s Incident Management process, along with an overview of other ITIL processes impacted by Incident Management to keep in mind as you dig in.

Review Your Incident Categories

A simple yet effective way to improve how you handle every day, break-fix incidents is to look at how they’re being categorized. When a Service Desk agent opens a ticket, one of the first things they’ll do – after confirming that it is, in fact, an Incident and logging the ticket – is categorize the type of incident they think it is.

Categorization is extremely helpful when it comes to reporting, so it’s important to ensure the categories you have listed are in good shape. One way to do this is to review the categories you currently have listed for incidents and determine whether they’re current, relevant, and accurate. There’s almost always an opportunity to streamline or consolidate this list. Keep an eye out for which categories are being used most frequently (Are they overly broad? Is one being used as a catch-all? Are they perfectly accurate and revealing a larger problem in need of attention?) and those that are rarely or never used (Is that service retired? Is it worded poorly? Is it just right but happens to be something that rarely goes wrong?). It’s also not a bad idea to make the list of your top ten incident categories and kick it up to leadership to investigate. A thorough review of this list, and even minor tweaks to it, can go a long way toward improving your Incident Management process. Patterns will emerge over time, and you’ll start to see better IT reporting.

NOTE: Two hundred incident categories (yes, I have actually seen that) is WAY too many. Pare that list down. Same goes for the number of services listed in your service catalog.

Automate Incident Escalation

After you’ve gotten your list of incident categories to a good place, it’s time to automate ticket escalation. Take some time to sit down with your team and discuss where tickets of different categories should be sent and identify where you’ve been running into problems. A robust Service Desk platform will be able to reroute tickets to the appropriate team for resolution without issue, saving your Service Desk agents a ton of time.

Automate Template Creation for Common Incident Types

Another helpful way to automate the Incident Management process is by creating templates within your Service Desk platform for incidents commonly reported to the Service Desk. This basically consists of defining instructions that, at the click of a button, allow Service Desk agents to populate a ticket, instantaneously run through the steps, and close it out. Templates allow your Service Desk to handle Incidents more quickly, freeing up time for agents to document the activities they do frequently (you’ll find this to be a common theme).


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