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.


[edit] Definition

ITIL terminology defines an incident 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. 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 [1]

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.

[edit] Incidents, Problems and Known Errors

Incidents may match with existing 'Known 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 Known 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.

[edit] 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 a problem has been properly identified and a work-around is known, the problem becomes a 'known problem'. 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 Change (RFC).

[edit] 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

[edit] Examples

Incidents should be classified as they are recorded, Examples of Incidents by classification:

  • Application
    • service not available
    • application bug
    • disk-usage threshold exceeded
  • Hardware
    • system-down
    • automatic alert
    • printer not printing

[edit] References

  1. ^ ITIL Incident Management - The ITIL Open Guide

Bruton, Noel: How to Manage the IT Helpdesk - a Guide for User Support and Call Center Managers' ISBN 07506 49011

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