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Think about the last time your IT systems had an outage: How did your team react to it? Were they organized with a clear idea of how best to resolve the issue? Or was it chaotic, with people firing questions from all directions and customer service channels ablaze with requests for help? 

Digital technology disruptions are typical (and even expected) at the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be chaotic, with teams rushing around to extinguish the metaphoric fire. What separates successful organizations from the rest is how well they handle incident management and how quickly they restore services and issues.

A planned incident management workflow can help you manage any incident quickly and efficiently. With IT crises common, it’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes invest in efficient incident management software. According to Industry Arc, the Incident, and Emergency Management Software market is estimated to cross $120 billion in 2026, growing at 5.4% annually from 2021 to 2026.

Whether you’re looking for new critical incident management solutions or planning to revamp your current system, this article will help refine and optimize your incident management process.

What Is Incident Management?

Incident response management is a collection of steps and tools that help you respond to a crisis or an unplanned event and restore services to their normal state. According to the ITIL glossary, “an incident is any unplanned interruption that affects the quality of business services.” For example, a mobile application not responding to user inputs is an incident. Similarly, a website loading slower than usual is also an incident, as it interferes with user experience and productivity.

Incident management ensures that regular services restore as quickly as possible, reducing downtime and minimizing business impacts as much as possible. In addition, the best incident management practices provide seamless and uninterrupted services, helping organizations win customers’ trust. For this reason, you need to implement incident management best practices that help you mitigate damages and resolve emergencies quickly and efficiently.

Top 7 Incident Management Best Practices

Here are some of the top incident management practices that can help you act quickly to mitigate damages when an incident occurs:

1. Equip Your Team With the Right Skills & Tools

An efficient and skilled incident management team can include internal and external stakeholders and third-party providers. Start by defining each team member’s role and responsibilities, which will help eliminate redundancies and gaps. The next step is to equip each team member with the right skills and tools for quick and timely responses.

Clarifying each member’s role enables you to execute a seamless incident response strategy, eliminating delays and misunderstandings. Finally, ensure that your incident response team contains employees with different skills and expertise to handle any potential incident efficiently.

2. Familiarize Employees With Incident Management Vocabulary

During an emergency, there’s no room for doubts or misinterpretations. Incident plans contain technical, compliance, legal, and business terms. When building incident management systems, ensure that all employees are familiar with the associated terminology. Training your team members with the correct vocabulary ensures they can work together as a coherent unit and avoid wasting time during incident response.

For example, AST (Agreed Service Time) denotes the maximum permissible service time and is usually mentioned in the SLA (Service-Level Agreement). Knowing what AST means ensures that all incident response team members can act quickly to achieve it.

3. Enforce Standard Operating Procedures

The incident response team acts with a cool head during critical situations. Predefining the standard operating procedures during a crisis is the best way to align and coordinate resources to work efficiently. Standard operating procedures also provide team members with a blueprint of how to accomplish tasks and who needs to do them.

It must be clear who is authorized to make the big decisions on behalf of the organizations. As a result, the incident response team can effectively determine the scope of the threat, initiate the right actions to contain it, and complete the recovery process quickly and without any confusion.

Incident Management Workflow
Incident Management Workflow

4. Establish Incident Communication Channels

The incident response team members need to communicate with each other to implement the recovery process efficiently. Ensure all team members have access to other members’ email addresses, phone numbers, or Slack. Some organizations even include personal contact details for on-call resolvers to connect with them quickly during an outage.

The communication plan should also provide details on what information to share with stakeholders. For example, resolvers require the complete details of the incident. On the other hand, it’s sufficient to pass on the essential information to the customer service team to handle customer complaints accordingly.

5. Avoid Pointing Fingers

It is human nature to place the blame on others. Work on building an organizational culture that avoids the blame game. Responders should focus on what needs to be done instead of dwelling on who was responsible for the crisis.

A blameless culture makes it easy for the incident manager and responders to resolve the issue quickly and helps in an effective postmortem later.

6. Schedule Periodic Incident Response Drills

You might have a comprehensive response plan and cutting-edge incident management tools like ServiceNow. However, there’s no guarantee that your project will work when needed. The only way to guarantee an efficient response is by testing your incident response plan. Run practice drills that simulate actual incidents.

This familiarizes responders with their roles and teaches other team members what they should do. Periodic exercises help your team work harmoniously and efficiently during a real crisis. Ensure that your incident response plans are regularly updated to match changing scenarios and tackle newer risks.

7. Don’t Avoid Incident Postmortem

The postmortem is a crucial and final step of any incident response plan. Often, organizations overlook this step as they get too busy resting on their laurels after successfully surpassing a crisis. However, avoiding reviewing the incident’s cause and your recovery plan could cause you to fall victim to the same happening again.

During postmortem discussion of the incident, the response team analyzes what went wrong and how team members implemented the response plan to identify gaps and take the right actions to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.

What’s Next?

In today’s hyper-connected digital world, no organization is immune to major incidents. As a result, incident management is a must for businesses of all sizes and across industries.

Exoprise Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) platform provides your business with the digital eyes to monitor user experience, networks, and applications by seamlessly integrating with an ITSM tool like ServiceNow.

We use the following communication methods to help the helpdesk and ITOps teams jump into action quickly, even before customers notice an outage.

  • Email
  • Text
  • Web Hooks/Email Hooks
  • Alarm Aggregation

Request a demo today and learn how we can help you with an end-to-end incident management strategy.

Brad Saville is the Director of Customer Success and aims to help customers get the most out of their Exoprise environment.

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