Are repeated incidents killing your IT service?

I saw a post recently on a separate forum about an IT service being impacted by lots of separate, small incidents. It asked the question what KPI’s would help show up where the real issue was. However, I don’t think this is a situation where one or more KPI’s would get you to the heart of the matter. I totally agree that suitable KPI’s would help you see there was a problem, but they wouldn’t help you identify the underlying root cause – or causes.

In a case where multiple incidents are occurring, I would start by looking at the data that is already being collected – in the incident management system, for example, or collated separately by the Help Desk. If your process is working well, each ticket ought to have some classification to indicate what the issue was believed to be when it was resolved and closed.

Running an initial analysis report on this data might give you a starting point.

I say “might” because it depends on (i) how well you have set up classification in your system and (ii) how well the Help Desk staff are interpreting and assigning these codes.

A discussion with the Help Desk team about their observations will give you some more information to work with. Some of it may be subjective, but it will lead you to a set of possible cause areas to investigate. These will help you design a second layer of classification codes that you can apply to the incident data and either prove or disprove your hypotheses.

The steps sound simple, but that doesn’t make them simple to enact. The critical success factors are:

  • Having the right analytical skills to hand
  • Setting the classification so that it leads you to the cause, not to confusion and/or cottage industry.
  • Having the right mentality on the Help Desk so that classification is applied appropriately.

If you’re interested in reading more on this approach, there’s plenty in the incident and problem chapters in “Avoiding IT Meltdown”. Or you could get in touch and see if we’re available to help you directly.

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