The 7 Deadly Sins Of IT Incident Management


The constant innovation in both technology and work practices has created new challenges for those working in incident management. One simple mistake can cause an avalanche of problems which inundates a company service desk. The complexity of these incidents often has not only an impact on the business and user satisfaction, but there can often be financial and legal implications.

In the high pressure environment of Incident Management, a clear understanding of what can bring your service desk’s reputation tumbling down is essential. Keep calm under pressure and avoid these seven deadly sins – it might save your neck.

1. Incorrect Ticket Assignments

Image is everything, and when end users have visibility into a disorganised ticket assignment process, it creates a negative perception of the IT service desk. Incorrect tickets and their subsequent reassignments (passing tickets from one support team or technician to another like a hot potato) adds to the time before the incident ticket reaches the correct support team and therefore the time it takes to resolve the incident. Precious resolution time can be lost, frustrating end users.

There are a few things that a service desk can do to avoid this. Accuracy when categorising incidents, implementing a Service Catalogue, and setting up automated tickets routing, which routes incidents to the appropriate technician queues as soon as the service desk receives them, will all help reduce incorrectly assigned tickets.

2. Prolonged Resolution Times

Resolution Time is an important measure to judge a technician’s troubleshooting skills, expertise and communication skills. The longer it takes to achieve incident resolution, the more the support costs the IT department and the greater the user dissatisfaction.

It is essential to correctly prioritise incidents to help technicians manage their workload. Providing insight into which tickets need urgent attention allows them to work more effectively. To help technicians stay on top of their deadlines, employ a well-defined SLA mechanism with resolution times and escalation levels. But a new programme won’t solve all your problems – work from the core and ensure that all your technicians have a comprehensive knowledge of solutions and training collateral. This can reduce incident resolution times drastically.

3. Fixes Not Working

If a ticket has to be reopened, this probably means that the issue was not resolved the first time. A high number of reopened incidents suggests poor quality solutions. A job half done only creates more work for your team, as others have to pick up the slack.

Closing a ticket without receiving confirmation from the ticket owner that the problem has been resolved will just result in unnecessary “failed fixes”. Effective training and a comprehensive knowledge base among technicians can help avoid these. However, a quick way to massively reduce your “failed fixes” is ensuring that a ticket is only ever resolved after having received end-user confirmation. A service desk mechanism can help automate this process, without negatively impacting your technicians’ workload.

4. Frequent Violation Of SLAs

When an incident ticket misses the resolution SLA, it becomes overdue and escalates as a result. Overdue incidents reflect badly on a service desk’s ability to meet incident deadlines, and a consistently high number of overdue tickets can ruin your helpdesk’s reputation. This can be easily avoided if realistic SLAs are set up. Correctly prioritising tickets and ensuring your technicians are equipped with a good knowledge base for dealing with these issues quickly, is also a great way to ensure speedy ticket resolution.

5. Not Closing Resolved Tickets

Closing a ticket acknowledges that the technician has resolved the issue for the end user. Not closing incident tickets after they are resolved results in skewed metrics data (such as the Incident Backlog). This leads to inaccurate and misleading data, and means that your technicians aren’t getting credit for their efforts.

It is important to ensure notifications are sent to end users after tickets are resolved so the user can check the issue has been resolved and confirm the ticket closure. A mechanism that automatically closes resolved tickets after a specific time is a great tool to ensure that your metrics aren’t skewed if an end user doesn’t respond. This ensures that your data is more accurate, your team is more efficient, and they are getting credit for their hard work.

6. Lack Of A Communication Strategy

Technology has completely changed our expectations of communication. We expect a lot more and a lot quicker, so frustration and dissatisfaction builds up when end users have to contact the helpdesk multiple times for updates on outages or incident tickets.

A good communications strategy should aim to engage end users in a timely fashion, and be informative, proactive and transparent. Connecting regularly with end users when there’s a service disruption helps them understand the problem at hand and builds trust in the measures you are taking to fix it. With plenty of communication channels at your fingertips (like email, social media and even picking up the phone), there’s no excuse to not maintain positive communications with your end users.

7. Closing Your Eyes To A Problem

A quick fix will only ever create more work in future. Solving an incident by fixing the symptoms rather the root cause itself will just result in frequent repeats of the incident. Constantly repeating the same solutions without solving the underlying issue will just steal technicians’ time away from other important issues. This ultimately reduces productivity and the service output.

Having a process where an incident can be converted into a problem, or linked together with other similar incidents for further analysis will allow you to ensure that all problems are fixed at the core. By only closing the repeat incidents once the root problem is fixed, you will increase your service desk’s efficiency and productivity in the long run.

These seven deadly sins are enough to get your service desk in a muddle and negatively affect the reputation of your hard working technicians. By making sure that your team is doing the best to ensure that every ticket is managed properly, from beginning to end, it will show how effective you team is and help you work faster and more efficiently.

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Kumaravel Ramakrishnan is a Market Analyst at ManageEngine.