4 Ways to Approach Incident Management and Improve Mean Time to Resolution
Truly effective IT Service Management needs to cover the needs of external customers, the requests of internal users, and everything between. Of all of this, one of the most critical areas IT support teams deal with is incident management.
Improving responses to incident management should be a goal of any IT support team – it’s key to providing top level service. In this post, we’re focusing on the mean time to resolution (MTTR) as measurement of effectiveness and efficiency, and taking a look at the steps your IT teams can take to improve it.
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When a major incident occurs, external customers, internal users, and even key stakeholders may well be panicking. I can’t log in! This isn’t loading! Support!
Members of the IT team need to keep a cool head amid the confusion. One way to do this is to know exactly what approach the team needs to take when incidents occur.
Your response doesn’t just involve investigating and identifying the cause of the incident, but also includes defining accountability – not to place blame, but to make it possible to learn from it later. It’s about finding the right person/resolver group that can either fix the problem or provide a suitable workaround.
Major incidents can be damaging to the reputation of your organization, even before you factor in the cost of an outage. Nailing your communication plan means your customers and stakeholders are clear on how you’re responding and your progress, and you can set expectations early. It is essential to get a well-balanced communication out to the business community; giving too much information can sometimes be as bad as, if not worse than, providing little or poor communication.
Working as a team is essential to solving issues faster and streamlining your processes. Removing any barriers to collaboration and information sharing means you’ll reach a resolution faster.
The bigger the incident, the bigger – and often more negative – the impact. On the other hand, you can ultimately learn from it, which means you’ll be able to do much more in the future to prevent problems escalating into full-blown incidents and outages. This stage can be forgotten in the rush of resolving an incident, but it will lead to fewer incidents in the future, and will give you opportunities to refine your incident management processes as well.
When the IT support team reacts in a calm, methodical manner, with strong communication, it’s a win for everyone.
To improve your mean time to resolution, you need an effective and standardised way to measure it. To do that, you need standard processes and paths of communication in place, but you also need them to allow your teams the flexibility to adapt depending on the nature of the incident.
Know what each step of the process looks like, and who is responsible for communicating updates to stakeholders. Where possible, set out guidelines in advance for your messaging, so there are no delays in communication and you can get on with resolving the incident faster.
Good practice is to break this down into distinct stages:
- Identify and communicate
- Investigate and diagnose
- Provide a workaround where needed
- Resolve and recover
This method will also help you communicate progress more effectively.
A recent Forrester study reports that in incident management, 70% of time is spent on the investigation and diagnosis stage. With more time spent on this than anything else, this is the area to really focus on when it comes to reducing the time spent from identifying a problem to being able to close it.
A great way to improve here is to incorporate ChatOps into your workflows. There are numerous ways you could do this; in this example, we’ll take a look at how integrating Atlassian’s JIRA Service Desk with HipChat helps IT support teams collaborate in real time.
Atlassian HipChat offers a number of integrations, including integration with monitoring tools and, of course, JIRA Service Desk. By bringing chat into your service desk solution, your teams can discover issues, discuss them, triage them, and ultimately resolve them all in one place, with full visibility and no need for clunky email chains.
You can even turn tickets for major incidents into dedicated HipChat rooms. Invite the right people so your teams can swarm on incidents more quickly, and everyone will be aware of the progress, as JIRA Service Desk updates will be communicated automatically to the room. This centralisation of information and communication will save support teams significant time.
With over 80% of IT organizations now supporting self-service within ITSM, the importance of having a comprehensive knowledge base cannot be overlooked. The more articles available to your users, the more answers they’ll be able to find themselves, and they’ll log fewer tickets, meaning IT support teams can dedicate more of their time to resolving major incidents faster. Self-service will drive costs down as well, and 90% more users prefer having a self-service option, so it means high rates of satisfaction.
Having a knowledge base that integrates closely with your service desk will allow you to take this even further. Let’s return for a moment to our earlier example of JIRA Service Desk. When IT teams use Confluence alongside JIRA Service Desk to collaboratively build a knowledge base, and they integrate the two tools, they can start automating the self-service side of the service desk.
When a user creates a ticket, JIRA Service Desk will suggest articles based on what they’re typing on that ticket – and the system will learn which ones work for the future.
Likewise, agents behind the scenes will also get auto-suggestions when responding to incidents.
Bringing a level of automation to self-service in this way will not only keep your users happy with quick, smart self-service. It also promotes knowledge sharing, making it easier than ever for teams to collaborate and work smarter and faster.
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