Checklist Incident Priority

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Checklist Incident Priority - Template Incident Priority


 

Definition: An Incident's priority is usually determined by assessing its impact and urgency: 'Urgency' is a measure how quickly a resolution of the Incident is required. 'Impact' is measure of the extent of the Incident and of the potential damage caused by the Incident before it can be resolved.

ITIL Process: ITIL Service Operation - Incident Management

Checklist Category: Templates ITIL 2011

 

Incident Prioritization Guideline

The Incident Prioritization Guideline describes the rules for assigning 'priorities to Incidents', including the definition of what constitutes a 'Major Incident'. Since Incident Management escalation rules are usually based on priorities, assigning the correct priority to an Incident is essential for triggering appropriate 'Incident escalations'.


Incident Urgency (Categories of Urgency)

This section establishes categories of urgency. The definitions must suit the type of organization, so the following table is only an example:

To determine the Incident's urgency, choose the highest relevant category:

 

Category Description
High (H)
  • The damage caused by the Incident increases rapidly.
  • Work that cannot be completed by staff is highly time sensitive.
  • A minor Incident can be prevented from becoming a major Incident by acting immediately.
  • Several users with VIP status are affected.
Medium (M)
  • The damage caused by the Incident increases considerably over time.
  • A single user with VIP status is affected.
Low (L)
  • The damage caused by the Incident only marginally increases over time.
  • Work that cannot be completed by staff is not time sensitive.

 

Incident Impact (Categories of Impact)

This section establishes categories of impact. The definitions must suit the type of organization, so the following table is only an example:

To determine the Incident's impact, choose the highest relevant category:

 

Category Description
High (H)
  • A large number of staff are affected and/or not able to do their job.
  • A large number of customers are affected and/or acutely disadvantaged in some way.
  • The financial impact of the Incident is (for example) likely to exceed $10,000.
  • The damage to the reputation of the business is likely to be high.
  • Someone has been injured.
Medium (M)
  • A moderate number of staff are affected and/or not able to do their job properly.
  • A moderate number of customers are affected and/or inconvenienced in some way.
  • The financial impact of the Incident is (for example) likely to exceed $1,000 but will not be more than $10,000.
  • The damage to the reputation of the business is likely to be moderate.
Low (L)
  • A minimal number of staff are affected and/or able to deliver an acceptable service but this requires extra effort.
  • A minimal number of customers are affected and/or inconvenienced but not in a significant way.
  • The financial impact of the Incident is (for example) likely to be less than $1,000.
  • The damage to the reputation of the business is likely to be minimal.

 

Incident Priority Classes

Incident Priority is derived from urgency and impact.

Incident Priority Matrix

If classes are defined to rate urgency and impact (see above), an Urgency-Impact Matrix (also referred to as Incident Priority Matrix) can be used to define priority classes, identified in this example by colors and priority codes:

 

Impact
   H       M       N   
Urgency    H       1    2    3
   M       2    3    4
   L       3    4    5

 

Priority Code Description Target Response Time Target Resolution Time
1 Critical Immediate 1 Hour
2 High 10 Minutes 4 Hours
3 Medium 1 Hour 8 Hours
4 Low 4 Hours 24 Hours
5 Very low 1 Day 1 Week

 

Circumstances that warrant the Incident to be treated as a Major Incident

Major Incidents call for the establishment of a Major Incident Team and are managed through the Handling of Major Incidents process.

Indicators

The above prioritization scheme notwithstanding, it is often appropriate to define additional, readily understandable indicators for identifying Major Incidents (see also the comments below on identifying Major Incidents). Examples for such indicators are:

  1. Certain (groups of) business-critical services, applications or infrastructure components are unavailable and the estimated time for recovery is unknown or exceedingly long (specify services, applications or infrastructure components)
  2. Certain (groups of) Vital Business Functions (business-critical processes) are affected and the estimated time for restoring these processes to full operating status is unknown or exceedingly long (specify business-critical processes)

 

Identifying Major Incidents

It is not easy to give clear guidelines on how to identify major incidents although the 1st Level Support often develops a "sixth sense" for these. It is also probably better to err on the side of caution in this respect.

A Major incidents tend to be characterized by its impact, especially on customers. Consider some examples:

  • A high speed network communications link fails and part of or all data communication to and from outside the organization is cut off.
  • A website grinds to a halt because of unexpected heavy demand prior to a deadline (for example to reserve tickets or make a legal submission) resulting in large numbers of customers failing to meet that deadline.
  • A key business database is found to be corrupted.
  • More than one business server is infected by a worm.
  • The private and confidential information of a significant number of individuals is accidentally disclosed in a public forum.

Note also that all disasters (covered by the IT Service Continuity Strategy and underpinning ITSCM Plans) are Major Incidents and that smaller incidents that are compounded by errors or inaction can become major incidents.

 

Major Incidents - Key Characteristics

Some of the key characteristics that make these Major Incidents are:

  • The ability of significant numbers of customers and/or key customers to use services or systems is or will be affected.
  • The cost to customers and/or the service provider is or will be substantial, both in terms of direct and indirect costs (including consequential loss).
  • The reputation of the Service Provider is likely to be damaged.

AND

  • The amount of effort and/or time required to manage and resolve the incident is likely to be large and it is very likely that agreed service levels (target resolution times) will be breached.

A Major Incident is also likely to be categorized as a critical or high priority incident.

 

Notes

Is based on: Template "Incident Prioritization Guideline" from the ITIL Process Map.

By:  Stefan Kempter , IT Process Maps.