Incident management (ITSM)
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Incident Management (IcM) is an IT service management (ITSM) process area. The first goal of the incident management process is to restore a normal service operation as quickly as possible and to minimize the impact on business operations, thus ensuring that the best possible levels of service quality and availability are maintained. 'Normal service operation' is defined here as service operation within service-level agreement (SLA). It is one process area within the broader ITIL and ISO 20000 environment.
ISO 20000 defines the objective of Incident management (part 1, 8.2) as: To restore agreed service to the business as soon as possible or to respond to service requests.
Incidents that cannot be resolved quickly by the help desk will be assigned to specialist technical support groups. A resolution or work-around should be established as quickly as possible in order to restore the service.
ITIL (v3) terminology defines an incident as:
- An unplanned interruption to an IT Service or a reduction in the Quality of an IT Service. Failure of a Configuration Item that has not yet impacted Service is also an Incident. For example, Failure of one disk from a mirror set.. The stated ITIL objective is to restore normal operations as quickly as possible with the least possible impact on either the business or the user, at a cost-effective price.
ISO 20000 defines an incident (part 1, 2.7) as:
- any event which is not part of the standard operation of a service and which causes or may cause an interruption to, or a reduction in, the quality of that service.
Incidents, problems and known errors
Incidents may match with existing 'problems' (without a known root cause) or 'known errors' (with a root cause) under the control of problem management and registered in the known-error database ( KeDB ). Where existing work-arounds have been developed, it is suggested that accessing these will allow the service desk to provide a quick first-line fix. Where an incident is not the result of a Problem or Known Error, it may either be an isolated or individual occurrence or may (once the initial issue has been addressed) require that problem management become involved, possibly resulting in a new problem record being raised.
Incidents and changes
Incidents are the result of failures or errors in the IT infrastructure. The cause of Incidents may be apparent and the cause may be addressed without the need for further investigation, resulting in a repair, a Work-around or a request for change (RFC) to remove the error.
Where an incident is considered to be serious in nature, or multiple occurrences of similar incidents are observed, a problem record might be created as a result (it's possible that the problem will not be recorded until several incidents have occurred). The management of a problem varies from the process of managing an incident and is typically performed by different staff and therefore is controlled by the problem management process. When its 'root cause' has been identified, it becomes a 'known error'. Finally, a request for change (RFC) may be raised to modify the system by resolving the known error. This process is covered by the change management process.
A request for new additional service is not regarded as an incident, but as a request for service (RFS).
Incident management processes
The main incident management processes are the following:
- Incident detection and recording
- Classification and initial support
- Investigation and diagnosis
- Resolution and recovery
- Incident closure
- Incident ownership, monitoring, tracking and communication
- Establish incident framework management
- Evaluation of incident framework management
Incidents should be classified as they are recorded, Examples of incidents by classification are:
- service not available
- data issue
- application bug
- disk-usage threshold exceeded
- system-down (server issue)
- network issue
- automatic alert
- printer not printing
- system issues
- Bruton, Noel, How to Manage the IT Helpdesk — A Guide for User Support and Call Center Managers. ISBN 0-7506-4901-1.