For many SMB and enterprise businesses, the approach to incident management is akin to an oil change—you know how important they are but usually wait until it’s too late to get one done.
But as businesses become more and more complex in their product offerings and the depth of their engineering, their approach to incident management can make or break them. In reality, incident management should be taken as seriously as your search for a payroll provider, executive hire, accounting tool, or CMS.
Unfortunately, this reactive approach leaves well-meaning businesses vulnerable to haphazard and frantic incident responses that can crush customer trust, industry rapport, and above all, your bottom line. But what exactly is incident management and why can it be so impactful?
Here, we’ll give you a primer on incident management, the processes involved, how different incidents are categorised and more. We’ll also explain how incident.io can help with automated workflows, easy adoption, and integrations that can make your next incident response seamless.
Behind any good incident is an incident management process. But to optimize for the latter, you need to have a good understanding of the former. Getting a grip on what an incident is (and isn’t) is the first step in bringing people into your company incident response process.
Internally, we like to define an incident as:
Anything that takes you away from planned work with a degree of urgency.
And while this exact definition can vary from organization to organization, the general sentiment remains the same: an occurrence that negatively affects either internal or worse, external functionalities.
Example: a monthly newsletter that only gets sent out on the last Friday of each month is being sent repeatedly throughout the day. This would likely qualify as an incident. Company ending? Not so much. Annoying to customers? You bet. Either way it’s best to address it and figure out what the root cause was.
But how severe is this example incident exactly?
Within incidents, there can be varying severity levels. This can mean setting thresholds so that only the most severe events are called incidents.
However, there is value in smaller, less consequential incidents and there's significant value to be obtained by lowering your threshold for an incident. Smaller incidents are a great way to learn about the failure cases of systems and provide an opportunity for teams to practice response to larger issues.
Whichever categorization you use for individual incident severities, the fact remains the same: incident management absolutely should not be overlooked. Without it, major incidents have the potential to end your business for good, while smaller incidents compound over time and escalate into large issues.
Whether you have a 10 person seed-stage company or a 500+ employee post-IPO enterprise, process means everything. This is especially important with incident management. With a dedicated process (and incident response team) in place, you can ensure that:
Without a dedicated process and responders, you can bet on hectic responses to even the most simple incidents.
Put simply, the incident management process is a sequence of steps to respond to any unplanned events and outages which disrupt the usual running of your service.
At incident.io, we consider the incident lifecycle to start when an issue is detected and an alert triggered. This lifecyle runs until the moment an incident is closed, meaning normal service is resumed, and a post-mortem process has taken place to identify the root causes of your incident.
This differs slightly from the ITIL model (a best practice framework for ITSM), which differentiates incident management (resuming normal service operation) from problem management (running root cause analysis on incidents to reduce recurrence of future incidents). We think these processes come hand-in-hand so our model brings them together as part of one incident lifecycle.
Remember: this exact process can vary from company to company but the gist remains the same.
Here’s what the actual process looks like for us at incident.io:
Many organizations view incidents as a solely engineering concern, traditionally the domain of SRE, DevOps and IT operations teams. Our experience is the polar opposite. Incidents often start in product or engineering, but they usually require people from around the organization to form a temporary team to collaborate, communicate and solve a problem. For example, if there is a data breach, your incident response will need to involve multiple team members such as security, legal, customer support.
Building an incident response process that is accessible to the wider organization will help you make sure you have the right people on hand, improving cross-team collaboration and ultimately helping to reduce response time.
At incident.io, we know how consequential incidents can be for growing businesses. We also realize that the processes surrounding managing incidents can be time-consuming, redundant, and hard to navigate.
That’s why we created a tool that’s primarily focused on automating a whole host of manual processes. We also integrate with tools you already use, such as Slack and Pagerduty, to create a seamless process end-to-end. Here’s what you can count on by adopting incident.io
Your most valuable asset as a growing business is time. That’s what why created incident.io with automation in mind. You can set up automated workflows through code-free, pre-built incident templates. This allows all designated members of your org to create incidents even if they aren’t engineers. A win-win for everyone involved.
To make adoption seamless, we integrate with dozens of tools that you’re already using such as Slack, Asana, Pagerduty, and more. Through these integrations, you can be confident that your incident management doesn’t live in a silo.
All companies will have their own approach to incident management. That’s why our tool allows you to create your own custom controls and fields. This includes roles, severities, privacy settings and more.
Incident management and response is a necessary tool for any company’s tech stack. Ready to experience why companies such as Ramp, Loom, Vanta, and others have decided to use incident.io? Sign up for our demo today.
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