IT Governance

7 Habits of Great Incident Managers

If the Flash ever had to give up being a superhero, IT leaders would be offering him an incident management job almost instantly. The process requires speed and the proper processes to keep the whole thing running smoothly. It’s one of the most visible parts of an organization, so it needs to be as efficient as possible. In a post at his website, Joe the IT Guy describes seven things effective incident managers do:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Structure your service desk’s work.
  3. Timebox everything.
  4. Get your priorities straight.
  5. Make handoffs and escalations seamless.
  6. Have a plan for major incidents.
  7. Always remember the customer.

Speed and Quality

The first tip is as obvious as “Don’t spit in the wind.” Having a plan for the most common problems you’ll encounter will allow your people to navigate the situation quickly. Using a script can really help in this area. Another tip Joe provides is to structure your service desk’s work. He gives the following list of items that should be documented in incident data-capture forms:

  • Customer details, including a number to call them back on if they get cut off
  • Service affected
  • Business impact
  • Priority
  • Times and dates – when did this start happening?
  • Recurrence information – has this happened before?
  • Whether anything has changed recently – for example, a technology refresh program, hardware upgrade, or new applications installed

Joe says that giving a time limit can aid in how many people can be helped in an hour’s time. While the industry standard is about 10-12 minutes, this will entirely depend upon your company, and it might help to have an additional set of shorter time limits that apply to emergency situations. Should an issue require escalation, it should be as easy as possible to make the handoff. Your incident management process should detail how to hand off to others and how to communicate with those people, according to who they are (the next level of internal support, or a vendor, etc.).

As mentioned above, a plan is an important thing to have. It is especially important to have a general plan in place for major incidents. Joe says it is critical to stay calm in these situations–not for your sake but for the sake of keeping everyone else calm. And finally, remember to keep the customer in mind at all points, so that you can provide the best support possible when incidents occur.

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