Incident escalation is one of those seemingly mundane issues, the importance of which is often underestimated. Simply put, the escalation process is used to flag issues so that the relevant personnel can respond to situations. Implementation of a well-designed escalation process, however, is anything but simple.
Ensuring a Quality Response
When a critical incident hits, the processes used to identify, track, assign, monitor, and coordinate tasks are crucial for a quality response. Together with other crucial processes, an optimized incident escalation process has a significant impact on the quality and speed of incident management operations.
Poor incident escalation strategies often result in inaction, whereby employees are stuck waiting for authorizations. As a result, precious time is wasted in the game of ping-pong, where tickets are assigned to irrelevant team members and critical tickets are left waiting in queue as the top-level engineers are swamped with non-critical issues. Well-implemented strategies for escalating incidents keep engineers focused on the most pressing issues and empower your support staff to knock out incident response related tickets quickly and efficiently.
A streamlined escalation process ensures a coordinated and well-orchestrated effort. As a result, quality response times are maintained, and service can be resumed promptly.
Overview of Incident Escalation and Potential Pitfalls
Escalation is not just about assigning an issue to another internal team or to a relevant third-party provider. It is about kickstarting the well-oiled machine that coordinates cross-team and cross-functional efforts in the most effective way possible.
In many organizations, the escalation process leaves much to be desired, resulting in wasted time, resources, and unnecessary delays. Here are just a few common pitfalls:
- Ad hoc decision making that results in delays: Leaving it up to the judgment call of the first responders to assign the issue to the proper department. This ad hoc approach often results in significant time-waste before the right people are notified.
- Deficient multi-party orchestration: Sometimes the incident requires multiple parties to be involved, often in a very specific order. Orchestrating multiple parties is difficult, especially in high-pressure environments, as each party needs to be notified in alerts separately and updated accordingly.
- Over-escalating: Wasting top-level engineers’ time with non-critical issues is a common problem. First responders end up assigning the incident to a higher level than necessary not because it is the correct thing to do, but because they don’t know who the correct person is to escalate to.
- Notification is not action: Notification doesn’t automatically translate into action; this is why there is a pressing need for an effective system that brings all parties on board quickly. The point isn’t just to notify, but to ensure that necessary actions are aligned.
A Practical Approach to Incident Management Escalation
Escalation management helps to solve and optimize the issues of incident escalation. It brings order, structure, and additional resources to those situations, which may otherwise result in significant business disruptions. An established escalation process will ensure that unresolved problems don't linger and critical issues are promptly addressed.
Here is what a streamlined escalation process should look like:
- Step 1: Initiate an escalation and assign a dedicated escalation manager
- Step 2: Log the escalation and record the related incident problems that occurred
- Step 3: Conduct a detailed situation appraisal and review
- Step 4: An escalation management action plan is put in place. The plan should be in sync and in parallel with the incident and problem management system.
- Step 5: Escalation team works to resolve the issue keeping all members briefed and involved along the way
- Step 6: Once monitoring is completed and the incident has been successfully responded to, a post escalation report is completed and distributed to the relevant teams.
The New Way to Manage Critical Incidents
The old way of responding to critical incidents isn’t enough in today’s increasingly fast-paced business environment. To handle an incident to the best of an organization’s ability, there needs to be a smarter and more structured way to manage complex and unpredictable processes.
To manage an incident properly, a uniformed platform that orchestrates each step in the incident management process (including the escalation procedures) will keep an organization ahead of the game, and ensure that the same incident does not happen again.
This is where Exigence comes in. We created a platform that manages the complete incident lifecycle and enables full command and control through the situation room, as well as seamlessly integrating and optimizing the benefits of all relevant incident management tools.