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3 Steps to Using Incidents to Identify Problems

02/09/2014 by: The SunView Team

Problem management is an extremely important task for IT leaders, especially as resolving problems efficiently is a key component of incident management. The relationship between incidents and problems is fairly simple, as incidents are basic issues that come and go, but are not indicative of a flaw with applications or the configurations. Problems, on the other hand, are the background flaws that sometimes lead to incidents. As such, organizations can use knowledge of incidents to identify problems (root cause) and use good problem management to reduce the number of incidents impacting users.

IT teams that want to improve problem management need to begin by differentiating between when incidents are indicative of problems and when an incident is just a minor issue.

Follow these three steps to get off to a good start in using incident-related data to support problem management functions:

1. Track All Incidents After Completion and Mine That Data
IT teams that record all incidents, what caused the glitch and how it was solved are handling incident management well, but not necessarily supporting their problem management goals. To do this, service desk personnel need to organize those records to inform their problem strategies.

Mining incident data to identify issues that come up especially often, hardware systems that are regularly contributing to incidents or applications that frequently experience glitches is key to identifying problems. Using incident data to get this information can prove invaluable to identifying problems that would otherwise go unnoticed.

2. Analyze Incident Data
Once you have recorded and organized data pertaining to incidents, you can start to shift your focus to figuring out which of those incidents are indicative of problems. Regular incidents can be a key indicator that a problem is causing the frequent issue. For example, users who are frequently facing data-related incidents when trying to access information being recorded from a variety of sources may really be facing a problem.

This can happen when problems with the underlying database configuration cause information from different sources to be recorded in a variety of ways. These types of problems can be difficult to identify based on user experience alone, but looking closely at incident data can reveal the underlying root causes that are the source of the frequent issues.

3. Integrate Ticketing Across Departments
IT silos are a common problem and they can make it difficult to see the various incidents that are becoming common across the entirety of the IT department. Many organizations have service desk setups that are spread out over multiple branch locations, regional operating centers and IT configurations. This complexity can make it difficult to identify which frequent incidents are related exclusively to one branch and which are indicative of problems in the IT configuration as a whole.

Resolving this issue depends on being able to integrate incident data across the entire landscape, not just each individual branch of the service desk. Having an advanced service desk solution in place plays an integral role in this process, as a homegrown help desk or basic service solution will likely lack the reporting functionality needed to provide the necessary oversight to track incidents holistically.

A robust service desk system features the ticketing architecture necessary to identify and organize incidents and track them effectively. From there, managers can look at ticketing data to identify incident trends across the entirety of the IT setup and understand how different issues are affecting various parts of the configuration. This not only makes it easier to figure out how well the service management team is functioning, it also allows IT managers to identify when problems may relate to the broad IT configuration, an application used throughout the company or a system that is only used within certain branches or departments.

Using incidents to identify problems can be extremely important for businesses, and having an advanced service desk system in place can ease this process.

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