I recently responded to a question on a LinkedIn forum from a Service Desk Manager from Canada. The question was, “Does anyone have any tips for categorising incidents?” Well here was my reply… but slightly expanded.
- Keep any category list to a maximum of 20 – 30 items if using a single list, preferably all viewable without scrolling. If you need more than can be seen on a single screen, then use multiple layers, that is if the tool you’re using has that functionality.
- List the categories alphabetically; it’s easier to find a suitable category
- If you have to use multiple layered lists, then limit it to a maximum of three layers
- If using multiple layers ensure you can navigate back up the layers
- Don’t use buckets, like ‘TBC’, ‘unknown’, ‘miscellaneous’ or ‘other’. Make people choose the most suitable category. If you don’t, you’ll end up with poor quality data being collected.
- Ensure you use an opening category for recording the opening symptom of the incident (what is it the user can’t do?) and a closing category to document the cause (why it happened?). Maintain two separate lists not a combined list. The opening category data is normally used for SLM reporting and the closing data typically used for problem management reporting.
- Don’t put Configuration Items (CI’s) or services in lists, use separate fields to record ‘the affected CI’ when logging the incident and ‘causing CI’ when closing the incident.
- Do use the same lists to record categories for incidents and problems. It saves maintaining two sets of lists. Problem Management may require a separate field for ‘corrective action taken’.
- Don’t use the incident/problem lists for recording categories of Changes and Service Requests. They will require different lists.
- Don’t let people add to the lists without a very good reason. Hopefully you will get it right first time. Remember to engage with the stakeholders in SLM, problem management and others to define what level of reporting they would like.
And as an added bonus……
Remember the underlying reason why you are categorising incident records is for Management Information and Incident matching purposes…. “Remember… garbage in… garbage out”
Hope this helps?