Incident Management, and some good habits

Over the past two weeks or so I have been blogging about Incident Management, and in particular how it is described in the ITIL Service Support book. At a later date I’ll draw these posts together, but for now I’ll explain why I started this thread.

My motive was to try to illustrate that it is quite straight-forward, and to try to de-mystify the subject for readers. It was also to point out that, valuable as it is, it’s not a silver bullet and nor is it that far removed from what properly managed IT service Helpdesk and Service Desks do anyway. Hopefully from my posts it is clear that ITIL Incident Management in non-prescriptive – it doesn’t tell you what to do. Instead, it offers a framework you can use for your own organisation and circumstances (therein lies both a strength [flexible enough for organisations of different types and sizes] and a weakness [insufficient guidance], depending on your point of view).

What I want to do is to write about some of the habits I see being adopted by the successful 'top 20%' of Helpdesks and Service Desks I have encountered. They are in no particular order, and the list is not definitive (in fact, I may return to this later). However, you’ll be able to see how you compare, and if you’ve others to add use the comments field. You might also want to have a look at my Success Factors in Incident Management post.

Habit: There is a good team structure, for instance Service Desk, Second Line and so on. Each Team has a Team Leader.

Habit: The overall Incident Management process is written down, with a clear focus on explaining what the responsibilities of different team members is. For example, we’d try to write down some of the responsibilities of our Team Leaders.

Habit: There is an Incident Manager whom everyone can identify. Everyone understands his or her responsibilities because these are written down.

Habit: The Incident Manager produces reports and metrics for the Incident Management team.

Habit: There is a constant drive to develop and maintain a Knowledgebase. There is a nominated Knowledgebase editor to whom suggestions can be made about new articles, and which the editor acts quickly – checking the articles for relevance and accuracy.

Habit: The quality of Incident records is seen as important. Staff make an effort to ensure proper classification and recording.

Habit: Strong focus on the central role of the Helpdesk or Service Desk in communication, with an emphasis on practicalities. For example, ensuring that ownership is maintained with the Service Desk even when Incidents are assigned to support teams, and then maintaining an involvement (particularly in terms of customer communication) with those Incidents by the Service Desk staff.

Habit: Careful use of status value to deliver a Workflow Position.

Habit: They make time for regular weekly team meetings for those most directly involved in Incident Management. These meetings follow a standard agenda, but allow flexibility for different issues to be raised. The meetings vary the chairman or woman, but the chair has clear guidelines on how to conduct the meeting.

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