Things you don’t get taught at ITSM school

Things you don’t get taught at ITSM school

When I started out in IT service management, I had little experience in this field. I got ITIL training and read tome after tome of service management books. But, there are some things you don’t get told in IT Service Manager school (I obviously graduated with flying colours). 
Here are some of the things I think you should remember when dealing with incidents.

1. Don’t wait. Communicate!
As Mark Imbriaco once famously said in his “Outage 101” talk, “customers just want to know what’s going on. They want to trust you. They chose your business and want to validate their decision”. 
This is so true. Set frameworks around how often communication should occur, and make sure it happens! Update your status page regularly and email appropriate contacts with updates.
Your customers appreciate your honesty.

2. Shout it loud
When an incident occurs. You tell your customers. That’s great! 
But, what about your employees? You know… Your colleagues who answer the calls from customers. Whose job it is to support and sell your services to people. They need to know too!

Send internal emails and make use of your chat tool (I can recommend Atlassian’s Hipchat). Again, agree how often this communication should happen and make sure it does. 
Your teams should be equipped with answers for customers who want them.

3. Restore normal service as quickly as possible
This sounds so obvious, but you’d be surprised how much this doesn’t happen. Get the service working as quickly as humanly possible! Don’t spend valuable time picking a fix, or fixing something else whilst “the bonnet is up”. Do the thing which will get “the wheels moving” the quickest. Don’t forget to document any workarounds you might put in place.

4. Get everyone on board
Incident management isn’t just the responsibility of one team. Every team (whether they know it or not) has a part to play when an incident happens. The success and failure of your incident management process is based on how much your business buys into it.
How can you achieve this? Share knowledge, train everyone on “what good looks like”, share statistics and help people understand why incident management is important to your business.

5. Always, always, always reflect
You might call them post-mortems, I call them root cause analysis meetings. It’s basically a retrospective on the incident. The idea here is to identify what could be improved with your processes and incident handling.

If we don’t reflect on the things we do, how can we make things better? Document the root cause and any improvements you need to make (more on this to come).

In summary, the core principals of incident management are communication and service restoration. If you do these things, and do them well, you’ll find yourself with happy, informed and understanding customers.

Next up, I’ll be writing about post-incident retrospectives and how best to get value out of them.

Learn something you didn’t know? Drop a comment below!

Thanks for reading!