Escalation and the Serio Escalation Engine

This post will be all about Escalation in Serio, the role that the Escalation Engine plays, and a personal perspective on ‘good practice’.

First of all, let’s define Escalation as it means different things to different people. Back in January I posted about Escalation in Incident Management, and that post defines both Function and Hierarchical Escalation. You’ll be pleased to hear that the Escalation Engine can handle both.

Serio Service Level Agreements have a ‘grid’ structure, and for each Response and Resolve target you define you can have up to 12 Escalation Timepoints. That means, say you have 4 different Response and Resolve Targets, you can have 4 * 12 = 48 Escalation Timepoints all occurring at slightly different times. That’s a lot of Timepoints! Of course, each Incident will have no more than 12, but the Incident next in the queue could have a different 12 – you get the idea.

Personally, I sometimes wish that the tool had less than 12, as managers are sometimes tempted to use all 12 – it seems to be a case of ‘we’ve paid for 12 so let’s use 12’ but in ITSM, as in life, less is often more. I’ll explain why.

Every Escalation Timepoint should have a consistent meaning in your Incident Management process, and for each Timepoint you need a managerial or service-based response. Without this, how will your staff know how to respond to the notifications and alerts they receive?

Let me give you an example of good use.

  • Escalation Timepoint 1 = SLA Breach in 2 hours
  • Escalation Timepoint 2 = SLA Breach in 1 hour
  • Escalation Timepoint 3 = SLA Breach
  • Escalation Timepoint 4 = SLA Breach by 25%
  • Escalation Timepoint 5 = SLA Breach by 50%

I mentioned a management response. Ideally you’ll have, in your operations manual (we have a template, request it from support), something along these lines:

At Escalation 1, the assigned Agent should notify their team leader (or Service Level Manager or whoever else you feel is appropriate) of the Escalation – and ask for guidance.

Escalation 2 is for information – breach imminent.

At Escalation point 3, contact the customer at let them know you are aware of the SLA breach

… and so on.

The real trick is to avoid a situation where lots of alerts and messages are produced that everyone ignores. If I’ve just described your Helpdesk or Service Desk, revisit both how you’ve set-up the system and the information and training you’ve given to your staff.

The Serio Escalation Engine helps out in the following ways:

  • It can send you alerts as the Escalation Timepoints occur
  • It can warn you about response breaches
  • It can place Actions on Incidents, Problems and Changes automatically to record the Escalation, giving you total control (through eDocs) over the Action comment
  • It can automatically send emails to the customer
  • It can automatically re-assign Incidents if that’s what you want it to do (though I’ll leave it to you to decide if that is the right thing to do)

Now which of those is Functional, and which Hierarchical?

Have a great weekend in the winter sun!