First of all, merry Christmas and all that stuff.
Second, I’ve finally escaped from Incident Management and thought I’d share a couple of ideas. When I first said I wanted to leave, I was told that it was because everyone blames IM. To an extent this is true, IM is the front line of an ITIL based organisation but I think I’ve proved that if you take the time to build strong relationships across your stakeholders, there is little blame and a lot of understanding. It is vital that your customers trust you to do the best for their business, that your suppliers trust you to work with them towards the fastest, best resolution (purely the fastest isn’t always the best and the best will frequently take too long) and your other stakeholders, particularly management trust you enough to let you get on with it without constantly asking “What’s the latest?”. So let’s take these groups in order.
Many people in IT still seem to forget it’s the customer, that’s our raison d’etre. You need not only to understand their business: when will they start making noise; when will it impact their business; and when will they escalate but you also need to know the people: are they laid back; pressured; need control etc and to do this you have to meet them. I cannot over emphasise the need for face to face contact as regularly as you can make possible, VC will do if you can’t make it in person. This needs to be backed up with other forms of contact : email, messaging etc. Now why contact a customer outside of an incident? Because you don’t have time for relationship building during the incident. Once you’re in an incident your customer has to trust you otherwise they will involve themselves and that will disrupt your management of said incident. Relationship building takes time but it’s worth it. If you’re doing it right, when you drop in on a customer the first question won’t be “What’s wrong?” But “Would you like a coffee?”. Work on it, it pays massive dividends.
Suppliers are strange beasts. They have to meet their contract with you but they are also made up of people. People will tend (most of them) to try to be helpful. If you ask a question, they will try to answer. If they ask a question try to answer. If you beat a supplier over the head constantly with their contract then they will start to work to the contract. When you need a favour in the middle of an incident isn’t the time to find out that your supplier is sticking to their SLA. Again it’s about building that relationship and also trust.
Trust. Many people look, naturally, at the cause of an incident and blame the relevant supplier. Why, it’s a waste of oxygen. The incident has happened, is resolved and is now done. Blame gets you nowhere. Your supplier, all your suppliers, have to trust you not to kick them when they are down. The role of IM is to look at what went wrong, particularly from a process point of view, and work with suppliers to improve so it doesn’t happen again.
Or more particularly management. Communication,communication, communication. If you can tell them what they need to know before they ask , they won’t ask. If you’re bad at this (I am very bad at this) task someone in the incident team to handle it. Basic update questions will slow you down so head them off.
I still believe Incident Management is a more blunt instrument than Problem Management. However neither is rocket science. It all comes down to talking to the right people at the right times in the right context. Good luck
Now because I am incredibly happy to be leaving Incident Management, here’s a picture of beer