5 Best Practices for Incident Escalations

01/05/2015 by: The SunView Team

Incident escalations are one of those nitty-gritty IT service desk issues that have a huge impact on everyday operations. Well-implemented strategies for escalating incidents can ensure quality response times are maintained, keep high-level engineers focused on the most important projects and help your support staff move quickly and efficiently through service requests. However, poor incident escalation strategies can leave employees bogged down waiting for authorizations. This often leads them struggling to pass incidents along to engineers with more expertise and makes them unable to quickly resolve an incident because escalation-related resources are unavailable.

Handling incident escalation well is key to establishing an effective service desk, and these best practices can help you create a framework that will support success:

Create Clear Authorization Processes
Not every workflow escalation decision should need direct authorization from managers. However, some issues need managerial oversight to ensure they are handled optimally. This is where your managers can create incredible value. A good service desk manager will know how to protect high-level engineers from unnecessary escalation and be able to identify when special attention needs to be paid to an incident - even if it isn't a particularly complex issue. A clear authorization process gives everybody the procedural architecture they need to make sure the best decisions are made as a support ticket is escalated.

Protect High-Level Engineers
Your technical experts are a huge asset. If an incident comes in that the tier 1 support teams can't handle, they can pass it up to the next tier, and so forth, until the most technically advanced workers are dealing with it. This is incredibly useful because it isolates the most complicated issues and makes sure they end up in the right hands. However, this workflow falls apart if support teams are passing so many incidents up the chain that tier 2 and tier 3 engineers are overwhelmed.

Taking a creative approach to managing your base support teams can help you protect your high-level technical experts from being swamped with so many issues that they cannot easily focus on the most important incidents. This can involve training low-level support workers so they can handle more complex tasks, putting extra management attention on incidents as they escalate or having tier 1 support workers gather more data about the incident before passing it along so high-level engineers can focus more on problem solving.

Understanding ITSM Incident Management Workflow

Understand Which Issues are Worth Escalating
It is absolutely essential to create a clear understanding of which tickets need more nuanced attention and should be escalated. Having a good knowledge center can help in this, as some incidents that are repetitive can be complex. Support workers that do not have access to the resolution for those common incidents often end up passing them along to high-level engineers, who proceed to go through the motion of putting the resolution that was already developed into place. Creating a knowledge center that features common incidents and other advice on when to escalate can help your support staff make the best decision about when to pass incidents on to other users.

Evaluate if Escalations are Necessary
Escalating between multiple tiers of engineers isn't applicable to every operational setting. There are some businesses that need such high-level expertise from all of their support workers that there is no reason to bother with escalation because everybody should be capable of dealing with issues. Conversely, some companies don't manage much of an internal configuration and the support team is primarily a liaison between employees and third-party technology providers. Escalation may not be needed here either as the support workers may be able to handle everything.

How an organization handles incident escalations has a huge impact on everyday operations, and following these best practices can help you establish the foundation you need to build a successful incident management strategy.

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