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Best Practices for Enterprise Incident Management

What is incident management?

Incident management refers to the tactics used to respond to disruptive incidents. 

It’s the process of identifying, analyzing, and responding to incidents that disrupt normal operations, with the goal of restoring services as quickly as possible. This involves detecting the issue, diagnosing its cause, implementing corrective actions, and documenting the incident to prevent future occurrences.

What is enterprise incident management?

Enterprise incident management is about the strategy behind the tactics. 

It’s a comprehensive approach to ensure that incident response work is coordinated and efficient to minimize the overall impact on operations. This usually involves processes, policies, and communication across departments. And it aligns with an organization's objectives and regulatory requirements.

Why is enterprise incident management important?

Most disruptions are bad for your business, and this is especially true when there isn’t a defined strategy in place for how to handle incidents when they do inevitably occur.

A well-designed enterprise incident management strategy has many benefits, including: 

  • Reduced downtime and financial losses. Being able to quickly restore normal operations when an incident occurs greatly minimizes the description to your business, which can lessen the negative financial impact on your business.

  • Improved compliance and risk management. Helps meet regulatory requirements and manage risks, protecting the organization from legal and reputational damage.

  • Asset protection. The ability to act quickly and efficiently during an incident safeguards physical, digital, and human resources from the adverse effects of disruption. 

  • Stronger cross-departmental alignment. Good enterprise incident management not only protects your business. It also promotes collaboration among departments, leading to more effective incident resolution and stronger team dynamics.

Fewer future disruptions. Incident management provides insights and data for preventing repeat occurrences or excessive disruptions, improving your overall incident response strategy.

Incident management vs case management

In a classic sense, incident management and case management usually address different types of issues. But they share many similarities in their structured approach to problem-solving, documentation, and the need for coordination and communication. 

As the definition of case management has evolved, incident management has started to be considered one of the many thousands of different types of case management processes. And it’s easy to see why:

  • Both incident management and case management require systematic approaches and effective coordination. 

  • They aim to resolve issues efficiently and document the actions taken throughout the process. 

  • Enterprise incident management often involves classic elements of case management when the incidents are complex and require detailed follow-up and documentation.

Both benefit from software and tools with robust features for workflow automation, tracking, reporting, and collaboration.

Common types of enterprise incident management

IT incident management deals with disruptions in IT services, such as server outages, network issues, or software failures. The focus is on quickly restoring normal service operations. For example, if an organization's primary server crashes, disrupting all online services. The incident management team will follow a predetermined set of procedures to quickly identify the issue, restore the server from backups, and implement measures to prevent future outages.

Security incident management protects sensitive information and maintains security by addressing incidents related to cybersecurity threats, such as data breaches, malware attacks, or unauthorized access. For example, if an employee receives a phishing email attempting to steal login credentials, the incident management team might follow a set of procedures to identify the phishing source, block the malicious emails, and educate employees on recognizing phishing attempts.

Business continuity management ensures that critical business functions continue during and after a significant disruption, often involving planning and response strategies for events like natural disasters or major system failures. For example, if a primary supplier goes out of business unexpectedly, the team will follow a predetermined plan to identify alternative suppliers, adjust procurement processes, and mitigate the impact on production schedules.

Operational incident management maintains business continuity and efficiency, and often deals with disruptions in everyday business operations, such as supply chain issues, production halts, or service delivery problems. For example, if a utility company experiences a widespread power outage, the incident management plan would include restoring service, communication with affected customers, and analysis of the cause to improve future responses. 

Compliance incident management ensures that an organization adheres to laws and regulations to avoid penalties, handling incidents that involve violations of regulatory or legal requirements. For example, perhaps a financial institution inadvertently discloses personally identifiable information (PII), violating privacy regulations. The incident management response could include reporting the incident to regulatory bodies, addressing the cause, and updating privacy policies and procedures.

7 best practices for incident management

Every organization has issues that need to be resolved. And a well-thought-out incident response strategy can be the difference between clarity and chaos. With good enterprise incident management tools, your organization can even identify issues before they become disruptions.

  1. Document everything. This starts with documenting your incident management policies and procedures and continues with documenting the details about incidents as they arise. Automation can be used to digitize and reconcile incident response data. 
  2. Simplify and clarify. Empower your employees with clear, simple categorization for incident responses. This keeps information accurate and routing and resource allocation more efficient.
  3. Use monitoring tools. Enterprise incident management software can monitor your systems, networks, and applications for potential incidents, alerting the right people when anomalies or suspicious activities occur. 
  4. Define communication channels. Knowing what channels will be used to communicate during incident response can significantly reduce the stress of handling disruptions. This can be done by implementing a centralized system or platform to facilitate communication, collaboration, and documentation.
  5. Centralize your data. Data is the key to most areas of success in your organization, and incident response is no exception. Many organizations use enterprise incident management software with data management capabilities to provide a single place where incident responses can be logged, accessed, and analyzed.  
  6. Analyze and apply learnings. Conducting thorough post-incident reviews helps you identify the root cause, lessons learned, and opportunities for improvement. You can use these insights to improve incident management processes, training programs, and preventative measures.
  7. Review and update regularly. Even if your incident responses are running smoothly, you still need to regularly evaluate them to account for changes in your organization, new regulations, and evolving threats. 

Evaluating enterprise incident management software

There are many different providers of enterprise incident management software, ranging from comprehensive, enterprise-wide solutions to specialized tools for specific industries or use cases.  

While only you know your specific requirements, budget, scalability, integration needs, and compliance considerations, there are a few universal things to keep in mind when selecting a vendor.

In general, your enterprise incident management solution should: 

  • Support incident management across departments and incident types. 

  • Integrate with and connect your existing systems.

  • Be flexible and customizable for your specific business needs as they evolve. 

  • Provide automation and workflow orchestration capabilities.

  • Offer real-time monitoring and in-depth analysis and reporting. 

  • Be scalable, performant, and able to meet industry standards for security and compliance.

Benefits of enterprise incident management with Appian

Appian provides a centralized platform for managing incidents across the organization and streamlining incident response processes. With its automation capabilities, real-time visibility, integration capabilities, and scalability, Appian empowers organizations to respond quickly and effectively to incidents, protect critical assets, and maintain customer trust and confidence.

Learn more about the Appian Platform.