Managing incidents effectively is paramount to ensuring minimal business disruption and maintaining the satisfaction of end users. The steps encompass the activities to be followed during the management of an incident.

1. Incident Identification

For businesses, it’s not viable to wait for a user to report an issue. Ideally, key components should be continuously monitored. By detecting failures or potential failures early on, the incident management process can be initiated promptly. This proactive approach helps in addressing incidents even before they affect users.

2. Incident Logging

Every incident, whether reported via a service desk call, an automated event alert, or other sources, must be comprehensively logged and timestamped. A thorough record ensures that if escalation is needed, the subsequent support groups have all pertinent information available.

3. Incident Categorization

A crucial step in logging is assigning appropriate categorization codes, which later assist in analyzing incident types and frequencies for various ITSM activities. It’s noteworthy to mention that service requests are distinct from incidents. However, they sometimes get incorrectly logged as such. Multilevel categorization enables more nuanced tracking, beneficial for ongoing improvements.

4. Incident Prioritization

Establishing a priority for every incident is imperative. Prioritization considers both the urgency of the incident and its business impact. Factors influencing this include:

  • Risk to safety
  • Number of affected services
  • Financial ramifications
  • Implications for business reputation
  • Any regulatory breaches.

5. Initial Diagnosis

When incidents reach the service desk, the analyst should conduct an initial diagnosis. Leveraging diagnostic scripts and known error data at this juncture can expedite and enhance the accuracy of the diagnosis.

6. Escalation

  • Functional Escalation: if the service desk can’t resolve the incident or the resolution time exceeds targets, an escalation for additional support becomes essential.
  • Hierarchic Escalation: for grave incidents, especially high-priority ones, IT managers should be informed. This escalation ensures senior managers can take necessary actions, be it allocating extra resources or liaising with suppliers.

7. Investigation and Diagnosis

A comprehensive investigation and diagnosis are vital for understanding the incident. All actions taken during this phase should be meticulously documented to maintain a historical record.

8. Resolution and Recovery

Once a potential resolution is identified, it should be implemented and assessed. The actions and involved parties during recovery may vary based on the issue’s nature. It could involve the user, the service desk, specialist support groups, or even third-party suppliers.

9. Incident Closure

Before an incident is closed, the service desk must confirm its complete resolution and user satisfaction. This step also involves ensuring the documentation is comprehensive and assessing if any ongoing or recurring problems exist.

10. Rules for Reopening Incidents

Despite best practices, some incidents might recur post-closure. It’s crucial to have predefined criteria determining when an incident can be reopened. Depending on individual organizations, the specifics may vary, but it’s crucial to have clarity and uniformity in application.

In conclusion, effective incident management requires a blend of proactive measures, efficient processes, and continuous improvement efforts. The outlined activities offer a structured approach to manage and mitigate incidents, ensuring smooth business operations and user satisfaction.

References: ITIL Service Operation, 2011 edition, ISBN 9780113313075