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Disruptive incidents can arise in any organization; therefore, incident resolution is imperative to combat outages, secure services, and ensure reliability. IT incidents can range from minor events that require nothing more than a review to major service interruptions that cause loss of revenue or reputational damage. The work of resolving them, which is often urgent and complex, puts strain on IT teams. This makes incident resolution a critical success factor for any organization.

What is incident resolution?

Incident resolution, sometimes referred to as incident management, is any process used in IT operations or DevOps for logging, recording, and resolving events that hinder business performance to restore service as quickly as possible. For example, network latency issues, container failures, unresponsive DNS servers, and outages caused by unoptimized database queries all count as incidents.

Distinct from processes for resolving bugs, defects, or problems that surface during testing, incident resolution applies to issues that arise when a product is live. Its core purpose is to resolve incidents quickly and efficiently.

However, the review process that follows an incident helps to identify causes and generates learnings that can mitigate future incidents. This step shares themes with problem management, which focuses on streamlining operations to address problems at their root.

Why is incident resolution important?

An incident resolution process enables organizations to confront issues immediately and mitigate negative consequences, which can be significant.

Revenue and customer satisfaction. The loss of customers and of business revenue can directly result from an incident and the response that follows. Poorly managed incidents keep organizations from delivering the level of service that customers expect. Customers may experience obstacles to their own productivity and bottom line or other frustrations that affect their happiness—and their loyalty.

Compliance. Global cybersecurity regulations mandate that organizations use incident resolution to protect sensitive data. Failure to establish a formal process or to prevent a breach could incur financial penalties and cause reputational damage.

Stress. Incidents can occur 24/7. This means many professionals in this field work on-call, often in a state of urgency, and burnout can manifest easily. An effective process can harmonize monitoring systems to minimize alerts, so on-call staff won’t be notified unnecessarily, and manage other pain points to lower stress. An organization’s approach to incident management factors into its success with hiring and retaining staff in these critical roles.

How incident resolution gets done

People drive effective incident resolution, and assigning roles to different contributors helps manage the process. These are three common roles in incident resolution:

  • Commanders lead coordination and execution while making sure the right people are involved, in order to remove roadblocks. They’re In charge of updating key internal stakeholders and an external-facing status page.
  • Investigators support the commander in running investigations, pulling and analyzing logs, reviewing metrics, and determining a course of action for mitigating each issue.
  • External communicators ensure updates from the commander reach the right external stakeholders, such as customers and partners.

Effective incident resolution involves storing, filtering, and managing data in a centralized way. This allows teams to address problems systematically, instead of on an ad-hoc or reactive basis, giving them more oversight and improving their ability to stop problems early.

Using the right processes and tools promotes clear communication, both to stakeholders and among collaborators, and ensures lessons learned from incidents can be applied in the future:

  • Monitoring and analytics systems provide a continuous, holistic view of infrastructure health and supply data to support detection.
  • Service desks can make reporting incidents easy for users.
  • Alerting functions quickly notify the right people when an incident is detected.
  • Incident trackers and dashboards consolidate information about an incident and convey its status in real-time.
  • Documentation tools store relevant analyses, insights, processes, and plans for reference.
  • Instant messaging and virtual meeting services keep teams and stakeholders connected and facilitate collaboration.

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