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Improving Incident Management

May 18, 2007

George Spafford

There are skills specific to diagnosing incidents that evolve over time and having periodic reviews to understand how successful engineers diagnose specific incidents will benefit everyone.

Moving along, repairing a CI involves having the right skills, tools and, if appropriate, spare parts needed. In some cases, repairing also means involving vendors. To improve this phase of the lifecycle involves looking for opportunities to reduce the time spent waiting for parts, people, etc.

It may mean negotiating with vendors. It may require training internal staff and evolving the vendor relationship. In some cases spare parts may be purchased in advance, or stored on-site in a depot arrangement with the vendors, to reduce the time spent waiting.

In situations where CIs are distributed, then avenues for reducing transit time between systems through automation, additional staffing, augmented work schedules, and so on.

Recovering CIs involves putting them back into production; physically and logically. Again, distributed systems can be a challenge. Tools, staffing augmentation and other means to reduce the time spent. The objective is to drive down time lost to transit, waiting, and so on.

Lastly, the service that the incident involved with is restored into production. A subtle means of speeding this up is to ensure there are efficient and effective means to communicate with users that a service is back online.

Again, in distributed environments this can be a challenge but there are means to overcome them via email, text messaging, etc.

In conclusion, Incident Management is a very important process to ensure the needs of the business are met. It is also important because it is very customer and user facing.

IT will be judged in no small part by how it responds to incidents and how users are supported during the course of the incident. By reviewing the expanded Incident Management lifecycle, groups can work together to identify opportunities to improve.

To learn more about the importance of Change Management and linking it to Incident Management, please visit the IT Process Institute and read about Visible Ops at http://www.itpi.org.

George Spafford is a principal consultant with Pepperweed Consulting and a long-time IT professional. George's professional focus is on compliance, security, management and overall process improvement.