What Is ITIL Incident Management?
ITIL — also known as the IT infrastructure library — is a widely adopted and well-respected service management framework that offers best practice and process recommendations to help companies maximize IT impact and reduce technology risk.
The library contains five core publications: Service Strategy, Design, Transition, Operation and Continual Improvement. Incident management falls under Service Operation and offers actionable advice to help organizations identify, categorize, prioritize, escalate and resolve IT incidents.
But what does this look like in practice? Let’s dive into the key ITIL incident management processes, responses, roles and metrics.
Understanding ITIL Incident Management Process Flows
The complexity of IT incident response often overwhelms even experienced IT teams. This makes sense. As both malicious external and accidental internal threats evolve, technology pros can find themselves inundated with reports, requests and alerts, which can fragment incident response.
To help streamline IT incidents, ITIL outlines clear response steps, including:
- Incident identification — Identification occurs when users open tickets or automated systems alert IT staff to potential issues.
- Data logging — Once issues have been identified, it’s critical for service desk agents to collect basic information about incident symptoms, outcomes and the impact on end-user productivity.
- Incident categorization — ITIL incident categorization divides IT issues by type to help manage response. Popular ITIL incident classifications include Service Tickets, Specific Faults, Technical Issues and Help Requests.
- Response prioritization — Incident severity isn’t uniform. As a result, it’s critical for teams to prioritize response based on the urgency and impact of IT issues.
- Initial diagnosis — Once immediate response incidents are identified, service agents must analyze key symptoms to determine likely causes.
- Escalation as needed — When required, service tickets must be escalated to more specialized IT experts.
- Incident closure — Once incidents are effectively resolved, agents must record resolution details and officially close tickets.
- End-user surveys — Continual evaluation and improvement is a critical aspect of the ITIL framework. End-user surveys help assess service desk response and inform ongoing development.
ITIL Incident Management Roles and Responsibilities
The goal of ITIL incident management process flow is to reduce overall risk and improve IT response. But achieving it requires more than actionable steps. Companies also must identify and implement key roles and responsibilities to ensure incident response is both immediate and effective.
At the C-suite level, this means assigning direct incident oversight to an executive (such as the CSO or CISO) and then creating a hierarchy of response that links specific tasks to specific personnel, in turn reducing the delay between incident detection and action.
It’s also critical to build out multiple support levels — or tiers — which allow effective escalation of IT incidents. These include:
- Tier 0 — This tier delivers self-help to users in the form of FAQs, forums, blog posts or manuals to help them resolve incidents without service desk intervention.
- Tier 1 — Front-line service desk agents deliver Tier 1 support by fulfilling straightforward requests and collecting data on more in-depth issues.
- Tier 2 — If Tier 1 support can’t resolve IT incidents, they’re escalated to Tier 2 experts with deeper technical knowledge and expertise.
- Tier 3 — At the final support level, Tier 3 personnel are often product specialists, creators or engineers.
Note that the higher the support tier, the more costly its interventions. Effective ITIL incident management helps improve response by “shifting left” — making it easier for end-users to resolve problems themselves or get immediate Tier 1 support.
Identifying Management Metrics
Immediate response to IT threats is straightforward, but effective response is often more challenging. To ensure ITIL incident escalations and classification are working as intended, companies must leverage key performance indicators (KPIs), such as:
- Average resolution time
- Volume of repeat incidents
- Reopen rates
- Average initial response time
- End-user satisfaction rates
While ITIL incident management prioritizes immediate response over root cause analysis, effectively capturing and recording these metrics can help resolve persistent issues and identify key vulnerabilities.
ITS and ITIL: Your Incident Management Advantage
At ITS, we have the experience and expertise necessary to design and deploy ITIL-powered service desks and solution frameworks that both expand support ability and reduce incident impact.
Ready to take your organization to the next level of security, efficacy and strategic value? Discover the ITS advantage.