What is an Incident Management System?

The term “incident management” is thrown around a lot in almost all types of industries today. While most people will have a general understanding of what type of thing it is used to describe, most don’t really understand exactly what an incident management system really is. Incident management is a term that has been used to describe all the activities related to how an organization will identify, review, analyze, and correct hazards or problems in the workplace.

The specifics of an incident management system are typically dependant on the type of industry being discussed. In an IT industry or department, for example, an incident management system is defined by the Information technology infrastructure library, or ITIL. ITIL is a set of standards and concepts, as well as a series of technical certifications, which goes over a wide range of different activities, including how to respond to incidents.

There are other standards for other industries, but they all focus on helping an organization respond to incidents more effectively. An information management system will help lay the groundwork on what types of things need to be done when something goes wrong. This helps to streamline the responses, and also to gather all the needed information to help ensure the problem doesn’t happen again.

What is an Incident?

It is important to start out with a good understanding of what an incident is when discussing an incident management system. At the most basic level, an incident can be a problem, hazard or anything that is outside the scope of how things are supposed to occur. Some examples of an incident could include:

  • A Password is Locked – When a computer password gets locked out, that is an incident.
  • A Product has a Defect – When creating a product, and one has a defect coming off the machine, it is an incident.
  • There is a leaky pipe – A leaky pipe, or other maintenance related items, can be considered an incident.

Of course, there are dozens of other things that can be incidents as well. When an efficient incident management system is put in place, these types of incidents will be identified, documented and tracked to the point where they are fixed or resolved. In addition, however, certain incidents will be researched further to see how they can be prevented. Some incidents, like the typical password lockout, won’t really ever be completely prevented, but steps can be taken to either reduce the frequency, or speed up the process by which each individual incident is fixed.

What is Not an Incident?

It is also important to see that not everything that might appear to be an incident actually is. The biggest example of this would be a scheduled change. When a manufacturing facility is changing their dies, for example, this is not an incident, even though it is interrupting production. It is a scheduled change, which would be handled by a change management system. Normal maintenance like replacing worn parts, keeping fluid levels high and things like that are also not going to be incidents. If, however, one of these normal changes doesn’t occur, it will result in an incident when the item in question breaks.

Setting up an Incident Management System

When a company is ready to set up an incident management system in their facility, it is important to take the time to get it done right. In the vast majority of cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. IT departments, for example, can follow in the steps of thousands of other companies, and implement the ITIL based incident management system. Since most industries have systems that are already being used at other companies, it is much easier to learn about those, and customize them to meet the needs at hand.

Incident management is an important part of any business. When done properly, it can help make long term improvements to the way things are handled, and reduce the total number of incidents a facility experiences. In addition, this system can reduce the actual impact an incident will have on the day to day operations.

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