Incident Management - Incident escalation
Incident escalation can be divided into:
- Functional escalation. As soon as it becomes clear that the Service Desk
is unable to resolve the incident itself (or when target times for first-point
resolution have been exceeded – whichever comes first!) the incident
must be immediately escalated for further support.
If the organization has a second-level support group and the Service Desk believes that the incident can be resolved by that group, it should refer the incident to them. If it is obvious that the incident will need deeper technical knowledge – or when the second-level group has not been able to resolve the incident within agreed target times (whichever comes first), the incident must be immediately escalated to the appropriate third-level support group. Note that third-level support groups may be internal – but they may also be third parties such as software suppliers or hardware manufacturers or maintainers. The rules for escalation and handling of incidents must be agreed in OLAs and UCs with internal and external support groups respectively.
Note: Incident Ownership remains with the Service Desk! Regardless of where an incident is referred to during its life, ownership of the incident remains with the Service Desk at all times. The Service Desk remains responsible for tracking progress, keeping users informed and ultimately for Incident Closure.
- Hierarchic escalation. If incidents are of a serious nature (for example
Priority 1 incidents) the appropriate IT managers must be notified, for
informational purposes at least. Hierarchic escalation is also used if the
'Investigation and Diagnosis' and 'Resolution and Recovery' steps are
taking too long or proving too difficult. Hierarchic escalation should
continue up the management chain so that senior managers are aware
and can be prepared and take any necessary action, such as allocating
additional resources or involving suppliers/maintainers. Hierarchic
escalation is also used when there is contention about to whom the
incident is allocated.
Hierarchic escalation can, of course, be initiated by the affected users or customer management, as they see fit - that is why it is important that IT managers are made
The exact levels and timescales for both functional and hierarchic escalation need to be agreed, taking into account SLA targets, and embedded within support tools which can then be used to police and control the process flow within agreed timescales.
The Service Desk should keep the user informed of any relevant escalation that takes place and ensure the Incident Record is updated accordingly to keep a full history of actions.
There may be many incidents in a queue with the same priority level - so it will be the job of the Service Desk and/or Incident Management staff initially, in conjunction with managers of the various support groups to which incidents are escalated, to decide the order in which incidents should be picked up and actively worked on. These managers must ensure that incidents are dealt with in true business priority order and that staff are not allowed to 'cherry-pick' the incidents they choose!
Other ITIL Processes
- Configuration Management
- Service Desk Management
- Incident & Problem Management
- Change Management
- Release Management