Friday, 22 February 2013

Incident Management – Kickin’ it up a Notch – BAM!

Since I had such a good response to the last post talking about issues I had experienced with Problem Management I started to think about what experiences I had with regards to Incidents and what knowledge I could pass on. A few months back I was discussing with a colleague who is currently at another company about what they were doing for IT Service Management and she mentioned some improvement initiatives they were working on and said “… and well you know, we already do Incident.”
She mentioned that there were some challenges with Incident but it really wasn’t on the radar for review or improvement since their leadership didn’t see many issues or concerns. She mentioned that while the process was pretty smooth there was always room for improvement and since the company had grown the service that was provided may not be what it once was.

I bumped into her again this past week and she said that they were going to take a closer look at incident as part of the ITSM process review and improvement initiative they had underway. It turned out when she went to the leadership group with her analysis of the current state of incident they were surprised. The perception from the top brass was that service was always quick and receptive, but as someone also pointed out it is mentally ingrained for people to go the distance for the company VIP’s and maybe that was where some misconceptions began. She said there were many areas that did not “make sense” anymore from an organizational standpoint and that to improve the other processes they were also going to rework Incident Management on some levels as well.
This can be an uphill climb, while you might think that there is only a few tweaks remember this process is the most recognizable to your customer base. Any changes might be like re-launching this process to your business or customers so it should be tackled in such a manner.

Whether it is a modified process or brand new here are just a few of the challenges I have come across:

Buy in and commitment. You need to have a solid plan before you communicate on what you are doing. You need a method to track the incidents, as well as a clear understanding of the incident process. What to do with incidents which are critical and ones that is not. “How do you know which incidents are critical?” You might ask yourself. This is where there needs to be an agreement on which services are considered critical to your business and which of those supersede the others (priority matrix). This will help you to determine the priority of issues you deal with. Depending on what tool or process maturity you have you may be able to automate this in some capacity rather than the service desk going from the gut upon creation.

The ability to detect incidents as early as possible. There are a few ways we can work to improve this situation. From a process perspective we need to take a look at the Event and Problem management processes if they exist. Is there something here that we are able to leverage, do the operations team monitor any environments and are there ways we can reduce double work to improve service. Getting these activities lined up can reduce the outage time and in many cases reduce the actual impact to our customers.

Convincing all staff to log Incidents. This is where we need to improve our relationships with our customers. From their perspective they just want something sorted out. They don’t want (and frankly don’t need) to jump through hoops to get things working again. There are 2 components for this. The first is that if the experience with the helpdesk is such that they don’t bother to log the issues we may not truly identify the scope of the issue and prioritize it correctly. There is also the way in which the escalation can be made to support. We may need to look at ways in which we can diversify the contact. How do the users want to communicate with us? We also need to make sure that our customers know that we are there to deliver an excellent experience, and to do that we have a process(s) in place. This level of communication can be handled by something as simple as a one-on-one personal connection through to roadshows, surveys, discussions, and social media.

Availability of information about Problems or known errors. There are many escalations each day that are known issues. If you are at a point where you are able to have a public repository of known issues where users can check before they escalate this will reduce calls into the service desk. In some cases the tool which generates the Incident will also have a place to view these documents. Put that to work for you.

The old saying goes you can only manage what you can measure. There is no need to over complicate this; doing so can be where you may have issues with reporting consistency. At the end of the day you are looking to identify the how well (or not) you are delivering services. In the beginning define, or redefine your top goals are and line up your metrics to report on them. As you get more mature in the process you will be able to enhance your KPI’s to make further improvements.

These are just of few of the common roadblocks that I have run into while working in Incident Management and there are plenty of others. Feel free to let me know which areas you have seen some issues.

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