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Flawed "ITIL aligned"​ Incident Management

Many "ITIL aligned" service desk tools have flawed incident management. The reason is that incidents are logged with a time association and some related fields to type in some gobbledygook. The expanded incident life cycle is not enforced and as a result trending and problem management is not possible.

Here is a fictitious log of an incident at PFS, a financial services company, which uses CGTSD, an “ITIL-aligned” service desk tool. Here is the log of an incident record from this system:

Monday, 12 August:

09:03am (Bob, the service desk guy): Alice (customer in retail banking) phoned in. Logged an issue. Unable to assist over the phone (there goes our FCR), will escalate to second line.

09:04am (Bob, the service desk guy): Escalate the incident to Charles in second line support.

09:05am (Charles, technical support): Open incident.

09:05am (Charles, technical support): Delayed incident by 1 day.

Tuesday, 13 August:

10:11am (Charles, technical support): Phoned Alice. The issue needs to be resolved by Denton.

10:12am (Charles, technical support): Forward the incident back to the service desk.

10:15am (Eric, the service desk guy): Open incident.

10.17am (Eric, the service desk guy): Forward the incident to Bob, with a note saying, Bob this looks like your stuff?

11:21am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident.

11:22am (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward the incident to Denton.

Wednesday, 14 August:

07:11am (Denton, technical support): Open incident.

07:12am (Denton, technical support): Forward the incident to Charles with a note, who the f*** is Alice?

09:01am (Charles, technical support): Open incident.

09:02am (Charles, technical support): Forward the incident to Denton, with a note, this is your issue to resolve.

09:04am (Denton, technical support): Open incident.

Thursday, 15 August:

14:03pm (Eric, the service desk guy): Open incident. Adds note to Denton. Customer Alice phoned to query status of issue.

Friday, 16 August:

09:01am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident. Adds note to Denton. Service level is broken. Please provide feedback as to the status of the issue or I will escalate it to your manager.

10:01am (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Farouk (technical support manager). SLA is broken, please attend.

10:30am (Farouk, technical support manager): Open incident.

10:32am (Farouk, technical support manager): Forward incident to Bob with note, please assign this to George. I fired Denton as he and Charles were fighting over a girl named Alice. I cannot allow personal relationships and love triangles to affect our services. Charles poured Coke over Denton’s keyboard and Denton stabbed Charles in the hand with a Bic pen.

10:36am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident.

10:37am (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward incident to George.

11:02am (George, technical support): Open incident

11:14am (George, technical support): Forward incident to Eric. Phoned customer Alice. Could not work out what the issue is over the phone. Customer was hysterical. Please send someone from desktop support to her.

11:15am (Eric, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Bob.

11:59am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident.

12:03pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward the incident to Hanna.

15:09pm (Hanna, desktop support): Open incident.

16:01pm (Hanna, desktop support): Incident delayed to Monday 19 August. Unable to contact customer Alice on phone.

Monday, 19 August:

08:74am (Hanna, desktop support): Phoned customer. Arranged appointment for 10:00am.

10:49am (Hanna, desktop support): Forward incident to service desk. Customer Alice needs a new gibble. Please assign to procurement.

10:58am (Eric, the service desk guy): Open incident.

10:59am (Eric, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Ivan.

11:00am (Ivan, procurement): Open incident.

11:02am (Ivan, procurement): Forward incident to Eric. A new gibble requires Form 123 to be attached.

11:03am (Eric, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Bob.

12:00pm (Janet, service desk manager): Adds note to Bob. This incident is in SLA breach. Please explain?

12:32pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident.

12:38pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Emails incident log to Janet with note, it was Denton’s fault but he was fired.

12:39pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Added note that Form 123 was emailed to customer Alice to complete.

15:23pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Ivan with completed Form 123 attached.

16:22pm (Ivan, procurement): Open incident.

16:23pm (Ivan, procurement): Forward incident to Kevin with note to supply gibble to Hanna to delivery and install for customer Alice.

Tuesday, 20 August:

08:00am (Kevin, logistics): Open incident.

08:02am (Kevin, logistics): Forward incident to Lorna with note, no more gibbles in stock, please order.

08:17am (Lorna, procurement): Open incident.

08:51am (Lorna, procurement): Gibble ordered. Incident delay to Thursday 22 August.

Wednesday, 21 August:

09:08am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident and added note that customer Alice phone about issue. Told customer that gibble was on order and due to arrive tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 August:

10:03am (Lorna, procurement): Open incident. Forwarded to Kevin with note, gibble has arrived, please deliver to Hanna.

10:05am (Kevin, logistics): Open incident.

10:33am (Kevin, logistics): Forward incident to Hanna with note that gibble has been delivered.

11:22am (Hanna, desktop support): Open incident.

11:23am (Hanna, desktop support): Forward incident to service desk with note, slipped on banana peel and broke leg. Please assign to someone else to install gibble.

11:24am (Eric, the service desk guy): Open incident.

11:25am (Eric, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Mandy with note to install gibble for customer Alice.

12:33pm (Mandy, desktop support): Forward incident to Kevin, with note, where is the gibble.

12:50pm (Kevin, logistics): Forward incident to Mandy with note that Gibble is on Hanna’s desk.

12:51pm (Mandy, desktop support): Open incident.

12:52pm (Mandy, desktop support): Delay incident to Friday 23 August with note that due to Hanna being incapacitated that the workload is too high.

Friday, 23 August:

09:07am (Mandy, desktop support): Open incident.

09:10am (Mandy, desktop support): Added note that customer Alice was phone and appointment arranged for 11:00am to install gibble.

11:16am (Mandy, desktop support): Forward incident to Bob with note that gibble is installed.

11:59am (Bob, the service desk guy): Open incident.

12:22pm (Bob, the service desk guy): Forward incident to Janet with note that he phoned customer to confirm that incident could be closed, but customer Alice was most upset with the service level.

12:35pm (Janet, service desk manager): Open incident.

12:36pm (Janet, service desk manager): Forward incident to Jacques with note to please investigate poor service.

12:38pm (Jacques, service level manager): Open incident.

12:39pm (Jacques, service level manager): Forward incident to Russell with note to perform RCA on poor service levels being provided by desktop support.

12:40pm (Russell, problem manager): Open incident.

12:59pm (Russell, problem manager): Incident closed and added to knowledge base with note, WTF?

Sadly, the actual logs of this fictitious incident are not that far removed from reality. The problem is that "ITIL aligned" service desks do not enforce process discipline (not even the bare bones of the expanded incident life cycle!) The above highlights the following:

  • The actual description and details of "the issue" is never logged.
  • Incident ping-pong is not negated.
  • The times of the actual actions or tasks are never recorded.
  • There are black holes in the process.
  • The tool becomes more important than actually assisting the customer, who the f*** is Alice?
  • The tool does not automate or reduce service times, it increases them and introduces process inefficiencies.
  • The escalations miss the boat, errr, customer.
  • This is over a period of 11 days. It is not uncommon that broken SLA's are extreme.

Here are the best ITIL aligned tools:

Winner - A4 Counter book. Best tool on the market for multiple causation! Notepad.exe is not as good because it is restricted to text.

Runner up - Bic pens. Is having more than one taking care of business continuity?

Honourable mention - what would a process be without a Post-it Note? Read here about how Post-IT Notes were a mistake that became a winner.

Comment below about your experiences of an IT service desk.

Ronald Bartels

This article was originally published over at LinkedIn: Flawed "ITIL aligned"​ Incident Management

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