Incident management means restoring normal computing services as quickly as possible to minimize the impact to the business. Yet, ironically, in a technology industry where innovation is the driving force, key elements of incident management have not been updated for some time.
Yet change is sorely needed. IT managers are challenged with managing increasingly complex IT infrastructures; ensuring the security of the network and its endpoints; and improving the quality of services to improve the employee experience and productivity. Against this backdrop, they must also respond to an uptick in IT incidents with reduced MTTR.
The Real Impact of Slow Resolution
The problem of slow resolution of endpoint IT incidents is only getting worse as complex business applications proliferate across endpoints amidst higher employee expectations for workplace IT services. New types of issues are arising and IT service desk staff aren’t equipped with accurate information and tools to quickly resolve them.
While the best solution is to prevent incidents from occurring and tickets from being raised in the first place, it is equally important to resolve incidents quickly when they happen. Clearly, traditional incident management measures are no longer cutting it, in which end users call in to the service desk, explain the problem to IT, and follow an endless back and forth between IT support and employees. When the service desk cannot handle it, the ticket is escalated to higher levels of specialized, yet costlier support. It’s been a reactive break-fix cycle. And to make matters worse, the same issue often repeats itself many times since the root cause is never detected.
Several methods have been tried over the years, but they focus on the data center infrastructure, such as servers, etc. – not endpoint devices. Yet the endpoint is precisely where most problems occur – and where productivity and employee morale are most sorely impacted.
Speaking of employee morale and productivity, when business end users report an incident they’re often required to remain at their desks and follow different instructions from IT; or else IT service support takes control of their devices, requiring them to remain at their desks doing nothing but waiting – as they count their missed deadlines and to-do lists by the minute.
Employees are losing 22 minutes of productivity each day because of IT incidents and slow resolution of incidents.
Taking MTTR to the Next Level
The key to improving MTTR lies in improving the efficiency of support teams and increasing the speed to manage different tasks involved in handling tickets. This is achieved by providing support analysts with the right data needed to investigate and process a ticket, and by automating the resolution steps.
Equip IT support with the data they need. In order to resolve incidents efficiently and accurately, IT support teams should have easy access to specific data for each phase of the incident management process. In particular, easily accessible data is critical in the following two phases of the process.
Incident logging and evaluation. The first stages of the incident management process include a set of tasks to accurately describe, categorize and prioritize the incident. Additionally, service desk analysts need to understand whether they can solve the incident autonomously or to escalate it. Having access to pre-digested critical data, such as the status of important services, asset details etc, is key. Successful companies rely on a combination of support checklists and quick access to user/device properties to minimize the time needed to perform an initial assessment.
Investigation and diagnosis. One of the most time-consuming phases of the incident management process is the one focused on investigation and diagnosis. This phase typically involves trying to quickly ascertain what has happened and how it could be resolved. To properly diagnose incidents, IT support teams need both a historical overview of past activities, as well as a granular view for additional insights.
Automate the resolution. Once a solution has been found, IT support agents need to apply the fix. However, traditional approaches are via remote desktop connections or by guiding the user through manual steps over the phone are time consuming and disruptive. Successful organizations are exploring ways to quickly remediate directly on endpoints, such as enabling IT support to trigger automated resolutions, without impacting employee productivity. Automating processes is becoming today’s IT mantra for efficiency.
Despite all the intervention in the world, the fact is, computer problems will occur at endpoint devices from time to time. IT departments that address the incidents quickly will have less frustrated end users, less enterprise-wide impact and more time to focus on innovation and business growth.