IT Incident Management: How to Manage IT Incidents


An incident is when something happens that isn’t expected and usually has a negative impact on what you’re doing. When working in information technology (IT), an incident can shut down a network or server and stop work, which is why IT incident management is so important.

Before we go into the process of IT incident management, let’s first understand what the term IT incident means and how IT incident management is defined. Then we’ll offer a few free IT incident management templates to help you control issues in your IT and how project management software can do what templates can’t.

What Is an IT Incident?

Where an incident is somewhat neutral in natural speech, it’s a different matter when you’re talking about IT management. An IT incident is unexpected and tends to be disruptive to the operational processes of an organization. It can also reduce the quality of a service.

However you define it, you’re not going to want to have an IT incident, and if you do, then you’re going to want to be prepared to address it quickly. While many might use the word ‘risk’ to describe this, and they’d not be wrong, ‘IT incident’ is the nomenclature used by development and IT operations teams.

When an IT incident happens it can cause a service interruption or worse. Having project management software is a way to quickly restore service. ProjectManager has IT incident management features that allow IT teams to identify, mitigate and track issues in real time. IT incidents can be captured on task cards that show the priority, impact and likelihood of the IT incident occurring. The card also will have a plan of action, attached files as needed and be assigned to an IT team member. It can then be tracked on a kanban board as it’s being resolved. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's risk card
ProjectManager has IT incident management features to mitigate issues quickly. Learn more

IT Incident Examples

An IT incident is unexpected, but there are many examples of IT incidents that IT teams are always on the lookout for. Any violation of security policies and controls is a problem, whether it steals data or disrupts systems. Here are just a few of the potential IT incidents.

  • A network device that causes a hardware crash
  • A bug that prevents the software from working properly
  • Phishing scam to gain illegal entrance to a network
  • Malware is introduced to a computer
  • Application attack to illegally enter a website
  • Ransomware that holds data hostage for payment
  • Unauthorized access
  • Email virus
  • Theft
  • Natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.

What Is IT Incident Management?

To control IT incidents, development and IT operations teams use IT incident management, which organizes the response to unplanned events or service interruptions to resolve the issue quickly. This is clearly one of the most important functions of an IT team, as the loss of IT functionality can be devastating to the organization’s operations.

IT incident management helps IT teams to respond effectively to recover fast. It also addresses customers, stakeholders, service owners and others in the organization by communicating clearly about the IT incident. IT teams need to collaborate in order to get the system back up and running and continuously improve by learning from past IT incidents so they’re less likely to occur again.

Recovering from an IT incident using IT incident management should be done without affecting service-level agreements (SLAs), which define the level of service expected from a vendor. There can be penalties if the agreed-upon service levels are not achieved.

IT incident management usually starts with a report of an issue from an end user. The benefits of IT incident management include proactive identification and prevention of major IT incidents, improved productivity, consistent service levels, heightened visibility of known issues and more. By mitigating IT incidents and preventing others from happening, businesses can stay in operation and meet compliance and regulatory standards.

IT Incident Management Process

The process for IT incident management is used to identify, prioritize and resolve IT incidents quickly while also reducing their negative impact on business operations and customer satisfaction. IT incident management follows these five steps.

1. Identify Potential Incidents

First, you have to identify potential IT incidents. This can be IT incidents that have yet to occur or capturing those that have been reported. That identification process can include using user logs and solution analysis. Whatever the process, IT teams need to be thorough and collect all the data to keep the recovery process moving swiftly forward. They can also use support teams to set up relevant channels for end users to report issues.

2. Create an IT Incident Log

The IT incident log will collect all the pertinent information and help to classify the IT incident. Use the information you gathered in the first step to name the incident, add an ID number to more easily track it, describe the incident, the date it was discovered and who the manager of that IT incident is. In the incident log, you’ll also want to categorize it.

3. Prioritize IT Incidents

Next, you’ll want to prioritize the IT incident. This is especially helpful when there are many and you have to manage your time and effort to address the most severe IT incidents first. You’ll have to look at all the IT incidents that have been reported and prioritize those against one another. This will allow you to start with the high-priority incidents that will have the greatest impact on your IT first.

4. Create an Incident Response Plan

Now, you’re ready to make your plan of action. IT teams will investigate and analyze the IT incidents and come up with a plan to resolve them. This will require a series of tasks that will need to have resources and costs attached.

5. Execute IT Incident Response Tasks

With the plan in place, the IT team will then go about executing the tasks of that plan. This will result in eliminating the threat and restoring systems or services to normal operation. Once the IT incident is resolved, the incident is closed. That process includes documentation, reporting and evaluating the steps taken to discern any improvements that can be made the next time an IT incident is reported.

IT Incident Management Templates

In order to facilitate the process of IT incident management, ProjectManager has many free project management templates for Excel and Word that can be downloaded from our site. We have dozens of free templates that cover every phase of the project. The following are three IT incident management templates to help you implement a more successful process of eliminating incidents in your IT.

Risk Matrix Template

An IT incident needs analysis and our free risk matrix template for Excel helps you define the incident to know how to best respond to it. The color-coded matrix allows you to determine the priority of the incident as well as its severity and likelihood of happening (when preparing for a possible IT incident).

RAID Log Template

RAID stands for risk, assumptions, issues and decisions and our free RAID log template for Excel helps with the planning and execution of IT incident mitigation. It helps to mitigate those incidents by describing them, their impact and what the response should be. You can also prioritize and assign an IT team member to be responsible for the IT incident.

Action Plan Template

Once you’ve prioritized and analyzed the IT incident, the next step is to create a plan to resolve it. Use our free action plan template for Excel to create the steps you’ll need to execute, assigning team members to those tasks, with start and due dates. This planning document will give your IT incident management a framework to get things done efficiently.

How ProjectManager Helps With IT Incident Management

As helpful as these free IT incident management templates are, they’re not great for collaboration and must be manually updated, which will take the IT team away from the more important work of resolving the incident. Project management software is a more powerful alternative to respond effectively to IT incidents. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you identify, manage and track IT incidents in real time. Our software has multiple project views so you can use IT incident management with the tools that best fit your work, whether that’s Gantt charts for managers, task lists or kanban boards for developers.

Log Incidents and Assign a Priority Level

Whichever project view you use, you’ll be able to log the incident and add all the details you need to better address it and have it resolved quickly. For example, our robust task lists can list each IT incident, assign a priority level and tag to make it easy to find. You can attach photos and documentation to help with mitigation and then task a team member with executing it. This provides users with an IT incident log to identify, plan and track the response in real time. Managers can make sure the work is being done quickly without interrupting their team.

ProjectManager's list view
Assign, Schedule and Track Incident Response Tasks

Another project view that helps users with IT incident management are our customizable kanban boards. Incidents are registered on task cards, which show priority, tags, due dates and can be assigned to teams. You can customize the columns on the board to reflect your IT incident management plan and managers can view the card as it moves from column to column to make sure it’s being executed in a timely manner. Meanwhile, teams can collaborate by sharing files that can be attached to the cards and commenting to connect them whether they’re in the same office or working remotely.

ProjectManager's kanban with notifications

With our risk management features to capture, plan and track IT incidents, task management features to manage that work and resource management tools to ensure that everyone has what they need when they need it, our software covers every aspect of your IT incident management process. You can even automate workflows to keep teams focused on what’s important. Adding task approval settings makes sure work is properly done before moving forward.

ProjectManager is online project management software that connects teams in the office or anywhere they’re working. They are always working on the most updated, real-time data no matter which project view they’re using. Email notifications and in-app alerts keep them on top of any progress or changes, fostering better collaboration. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.