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6 tips to improve incident management

Hannah Dickins
February 10, 2016

No one wants to be faced with an incident to resolve. Of course we do our best to prevent incidents from occurring, but that can’t be our only preparation. No matter how hard we try, some things are inevitable and the occasional slip up will happen.

What counts is that you have a plan to recover from the incident, and you’re prepared to use it. The best defence is usually a good offence, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take defence into account.

1. Make sure everyone has a job

The last thing you want is everyone running around in circles asking you what to do. To prevent that, think about the skillsets of the employees you have at your disposal. What are they good at? Who works the best under pressure? Assign everyone a role for incident recovery. Let the people who are best for the different roles fill those shoes.

2. Break everything into bite-sized portions

There’s a textbook way to handle everything, but there’s really no such thing as a textbook incident. Instead of envisioning one clear plan and following it, break everyone into teams. There are usually multiple facets of an issue that need to be resolved. Let the teams troubleshoot their individual facet, then come to you for approval of their desired course of action. It always helps to break the problem into smaller pieces.

3. Inform everyone immediately

If your incident involves your customers or clients, they need to know right away. If they find out from another source, you may not be able to repair the damage as far as their trust and loyalty are concerned. Don’t wait around—prepare a statement and contact people in the most appropriate way possible. Minor things warrant an email, but major things warrant a phone call.

4. Don’t let support fall behind

You may find you’re receiving a lot of calls, emails, and help or support requests if the incident’s a big one. The worst thing you can do is neglect service communication. This will cause people to panic, thinking the issue is untamably large. Devote as much available manpower as possible to dealing with the influx of communication that generally follows an incident.

5. Figure out what you can do now

There’s a long-term and a short-term solution for everything. You should put a tourniquet on the wound before you take the patient in for surgery. What can you do right now to calm things down?

Take immediate action of some sort that won’t disturb the end goal. You don’t have time to hold a bunch of meetings to determine a course of action that will work in the long run. Do what you can to patch things up for a moment, and then immediately begin figuring out your ultimate plan.

6. Put safeguards in place

Incident recovery is a lot to go through. At the very least, use the things you can take away from it. Why did the incident occur? Whether it was your fault or not, you were blindsided by some variable you didn’t predict. Improve your radar. Have more conversations about streamlining your processes. Close up all the gaps. If at all possible, you don’t want to deal with the same incident again.

Remember to review your incident intervention plan frequently. You won’t need to use it on a daily basis, but you can’t afford to waste time with everyone scrambling to recall what they’re supposed to do. The faster you take action, the better.

Hannah Dickins
Hannah Dickins is a community manager at She has a huge interest in the technology and startup industry and enjoys finding helpful online tools and productivity hacks.
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