Most IT companies provide clients with incident reports in one form or another. In this article, we’ll explain why proper documentation of incident reports in an electronic format is important for you as a client.
An incident is a one-time issue. For example, a PC gets the blue screen of death or a server stops working correctly. Resolving this issue might be attempted by someone on the Helpdesk and should be resolved as quickly as possible to get the user up and running.
A structured incident report is a process that details what has happened and what rectification has been put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. These reports help you, as the client, better understand what’s going on in your IT environment.
Fundamentally, an incident report will:
- Describe the event that happened
- Explain the steps taken to fix it
- Outline the actions taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again
This is all sounds useful, right?
Now let’s look at three reasons why you should request documented incident reports from your IT provider.
1. They hold the IT provider accountable
If you don’t receive incident reports, how can you guarantee your provider is fixing issues?
Documented incident reports force the IT company to provide clarity surrounding a particular issue and explain how it was fixed. It ensures they take action to rectify the issue and put changes in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.
2. They provide a historical record
Incident reports provide a historical record that you can refer to later. This record makes it easy for you—or other stakeholders—to quickly see all the issues that have occurred during your contract.
Oftentimes, an email from your IT provider (about the issue) gets lost in your email archive. It’s very hard to find that information at a later point when you need to reference it.
Imagine a situation where you’re trying to create a new solution or you're looking to change your IT provider. You will need to communicate some of the issues that you've had; you don’t want to rely on your own memory.
Documented incident reports that are stored in one place will ensure you always have quick access to a list of major issues. You can quickly find every issue that has occurred, what changes were made to rectify it and stop it from happening again.
This creates a nice communication trail for you in the future.
3. They provide stakeholders with additional information in a structured format
A structured incident report gives internal stakeholders a clear view of the issues impacting the business and how they will be addressed moving forward. Instead of constantly answering questions from your stakeholders, formalize your incident report processes so they are structured and easily accessible by the people who need them.
When problems occur, managers, internal staff and executives also need clarity around why the problems have occurred and what’s been done to fix them. For example, if email has been down for four hours—why? Your staff want to know why they haven’t been able to access their email.
Documented incident reports can be circulated to stakeholders so that everyone understands what has happened and what has been done to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
This will save you time because you won’t have to answer the same questions from all your stakeholders twenty times.
Case study: Optometrist with 40 stores
We recently completed an incident report for an optometrist with 40 stores. We were managing the firewall and it de-registered itself and stopped working. This caused all of the stores' internet—as well as the head office’s internet—to stop working.
After we fixed the issue, we sent an incident report that documented what had happened to the client. In this scenario, we reached out to the vendor and they gave us a hot fix which rectified the issue. This incident report clarified for the optometrist’s IT manager what had happened. It gave him a level of security and comfort that the issue had been addressed.
It also gave him something that he could circulate back through the company so that everyone was aware of why the internet went down and what had been done to stop it happening again in the future.
Download our Incident Report template. Give this template to your IT provider and ask them to use it when documenting all your IT incidents.