Incident Management (IcM) requires you to spot unexpected disruption in IT service and organize a resolution to the problem promptly. The field of Incident Management encompasses user support and help response, so incident management software is closely tied to service desk software functions.
The ideal incident management tool needs to be more comprehensive than a straightforward Help Desk event tracking system. It also needs to support the evolution of the IT system to prevent the re-occurrence of an unexpected hazard.
This means that the ideal incident management should include extensive reporting and analytical features. The powerful integration of ITIL processes is also beneficial as it aids the guidance of system adaptation once you identify the cause of the incident and plan to correct system faults.
Here is our list of the best incident management software tools:
- SolarWinds Web Help Desk EDITOR’S CHOICE Leading on-premises software to manage infrastructure and process Help Desk calls. Makes discovery and management of IT assets affordable for any size organization. Start a 14-day free trial.
- Atera (FREE TRIAL) A software package for managed service providers (MSPs) with user support functions and incident logging for client service reviews.
- ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus (FREE TRIAL) An extended service support system that installs on Windows and Linux.
- SolarWinds Service Desk (FREE TRIAL) Cloud-based Service Desk and IT Asset Management platform. Includes ticket management, knowledge base, incident logging, and self-service software platforms.
- Spiceworks Help Desk Comprehensive user support system that has incident tracking software capabilities.
- Zendesk Suite Extended Service Desk tool that includes failure monitoring and change management features.
The best incident management software tools
You can read more about the incident management capabilities these tools have in the following sections.
The name of the SolarWinds Web Help Desk would make you think that this service is run from the cloud. However, it is on-premises software that you install on your own servers, but you can access it through a browser, meaning that you create your own in-house Cloud.
This powerful package is more than just a Help Desk system. It has asset management and version control features that will assist you in keeping track of your software and hardware inventory. Luck favors the prepared and this tool’s automated device discovery routines create and maintain a database of IT assets. This service gives you rapid access to checks on the availability and utilization of your IT equipment giving you a constant view on the performance of your equipment.
The software was designed with ITIL processes in mind and that eases the task of planning, implementing and tweaking any changes you need to make to prevent an arising hazard from reoccurring.
Along with these great change management features, the SolarWinds system has standard Help Desk functions. These are enhanced by excellent task tracking features and team management utilities.
The reporting and analytical tools built into the Web Help Desk will assist management in SLA monitoring – that also makes this a great option for managed service providers. You can set parameters in the Dashboard that will trip alerts if performance targets are being failed. This warning system is also useful for tracking incidents and ensuring that response times for resolution are kept tight.
- The simple layout makes management easy, even at scale
- On-premise tool, a good option for organizations who do not want a cloud solution
- Can track time entries, as well as SLA performance for help-desk teams
- Proactive alerts can notify staff when SLAs are in danger of being breached
- Would like to have a longer 30-day trial period
The Web Help Desk software runs on Windows, Windows Server, Linux, and MacOS. You can test the system on a 14-day free trial. After the trial period, you can stop using it, buy a license, or switch to the Web Help Desk Free Edition, which doesn’t have the full capabilities of the paid software.
SolarWinds Web Help Desk is our first choice incident management tool. Straigh out-of-the-box you get an automated ticketing system, real time incident tracking and granular asset management views. The SLA reporting is second to none.
Start 14-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/web-help-desk
OS: Windows, Windows Server, Linux, and MacOS
Atera is a cloud-based package of software systems needed by MSPs. This includes remote monitoring and management (RMM) functions needed by support staff and professional services automation (PSA) systems needed by the MSPs management. Both of these modules contribute to incident management.
The RMM service includes system monitoring services that constantly monitor the network and servers with performance thresholds in place. If performance crosses one of those thresholds, an alert is issued. This alert automatically feeds into the Atera ticketing system to schedule a member of staff to examine the problem.
This monitoring feature lets the MSP deal with problems before they get noticed by the users of the client company. All actions performed by technicians to resolve this incident get recorded and times get billed to the customer.
The ticketing system of Atera can be accessed through a white-labeled self-service portal. A Knowledge Base Center service helps users solve problems themselves, or raise a ticket if that can’t be done. The ticketing system schedules and tracks the resolution of all problems. Again, technician time gets automatically transferred to the billing systems.
As all incident response are recorded, they are available to client liaison managers for monthly service reviews. Persistent problems are easy to spot and give the MSP an opportunity to upsell system improvement services.
- Built for MSPs and larger helpdesk teams
- Works to be an all-in-one solution for remote management
- Available as a lightweight cloud service, lowering startup costs for MSPs
- Atera is a fully-featured PSA tool built for MSPs, and may take time to fully explore all options and capabilities
Atera is a subscription service with a rate per month per technician. There are no minimum service requirements for a subscription, so it is easy to add and remove seats according to the business’s needs. Atera is available for a 30-day free trial.
ManageEngine ServiceDesk Plus is available as on-premises software or as a software service delivered over the web. ManageEngine offers three service management levels for Service Desk Plus and the incident management system features are only available in the higher plans. The full package includes IT asset management utilities that will provide you with an inventory database of all hardware and software operating on your network. You also get ITIL-based project management procedures with the top plan.
The powerful incident management software features of ServiceDesk Plus encompasses the system’s Help Desk functions. The module also includes performance monitoring and SLA tracking. Other ITIL features of the tool include a service catalog that covers both business and technical services. It guides information gathering when a hazard arises and feeds through to scripts and workflows to transition investigation through to a solution.
The services that prevent the detected hazard from reoccurring center around updating the knowledge base that contains guidance for users and adjustments to service procedures and scripts to account for the newly identified potential error.
Fundamental system shortfalls that lead to incidents occurring trigger change management procedures in the ServiceDesk Plus system. Once an incident has been resolved, the next task is to make sure it never happens again and if the cause was infrastructure-related, you’re going to have to improve the system. Workflows in the change management module guide your team through the process of evolving and repairing your inventory to prevent errors recurring.
ServiceDesk Plus is available in three packages. The Standard package gives you the fundamental Help Desk functions, which includes some requirements for incident management. IT asset management is only available if you go up to the Professional plan. The highest plan, called the Enterprise Edition, includes all of the service desk and asset management modules of the lower plans and also has extensive ITIL change management functions.
The Enterprise plan includes change management, service catalog, problem management, and configuration management. The reporting and analysis features of ServiceDesk Plus provide excellent support to management during problem-solving and system evolution tasks.
- Robust all in one tool for managing client contracts, maintenance requests, and other ancillary services MSPs normally offer
- Automatic asset discovery helps keep NOC teams informed of the scope and new devices that are added to the network
- Cross-platform support work with Windows or Linux server distros
- Available for on-premise deployment as well as a SaaS
- ManageEngine offers a range of services and products that can take time to fully explore and utilize
The on-premises version of this software installs on Windows and Linux. You can get a 30-day free trial of either the cloud-hosted version or the on-premises system.
SolarWinds Service Desk is delivered as a service over the web. However, the company will give the software for the systems for customers to install on-premises on request. This online service was built according to the processes of the ITIL standards, so it ensures that its asset management and customer support systems are fully able to tackle incident management. Service Desk won an award and topped a list in a recent comparison report that you can download here.
SolarWinds bought Samanage in 2019. The Samanage system was cutting edge in the field of ITIL-supporting business software because it includes AI processes, such as its help-center simulated technician on live chat. SolarWinds Service Desk is the new name for Samanage and it still includes all of those AI features.
The SolarWinds Service Desk system is at the heart of its incident management solution. This includes three main elements: ticketing, a self-help portal, and a knowledge base. The service is available in three package levels. The company presents the Standard package as fulfilling incident management requirements. However, this just refers to the Help Desk management system. To get all of the functions needed for the full ITIL-defined incident management lifecycle you need to go for the highest plan.
The Business plan gives you Help Desk functions and also change management, service catalogs, and SLA performance tracking. The top plan, called Professional, gives you license and contract management and advanced automation. The inclusion of workflows and investigation scripts in Service Desk helps guide your team of agents when they investigate the source of a user-reported problem. The ITIL processes built into the software extend that investigation phase through to solution proposals and project management tasks.
- Provides helpdesk services as a flexible SaaS offering
- Pricing is scalable for both established enterprises as well as growing MSPs
- Offers SLA monitoring and multi-tenant reporting options
- Includes a knowledge base that can be used by both internal staff as well as end-users
- Supports over 200 integration into other popular applications
- Is designed for a corporate environment, small helpdesk teams may want to consider SolarWinds Web Help Desk
SolarWinds Service Desk is charged for on a per agent/per device basis. This makes the service accessible to any size of organization. You can get a 30-day free trial which is a full version of the Professional package to test the system for yourself.
See also: SLA Management & Monitoring Tools
The remarkable attribute of Spiceworks Help Desk is that it is free to use. This is a fantastic deal considering the sophistication of the software. On the downside, the system is ad-supported with publicity appearing permanently in a side panel of the dashboard. There isn’t a paid version of Spiceworks Help Desk.
This is a software package that installs on Windows and Mac OS. You can opt to use the system online instead and avoid having to maintain the software on your servers. The functionality of the online version, which is called Spiceworks Cloud Help Desk isn’t as comprehensive as the on-premises software. However, Cloud Help Desk can be accessed from any device anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about software and operating system compatibility, and you can access your Help Desk dashboard from mobile devices running Android or iOS.
Spiceworks has a very active user community and there are thousands of plugins available on the community forum. These enable you to adapt the system to integrate with other applications that you might use – the providers write many of the extensions of those apps.
- Completely free cloud-based helpdesk tool
- Great functionality through the Spiceworks Help Desk Mobile App
- Offers on-premise options as well as a SaaS version
- Supports mobile app access on both iOS and Android
- Could use more roles and notification features to support larger deployments
- The interface can feel cluttered, especially with sidebar banner ads
- The desktop version isn’t supported as much as the cloud-version
- Lacks a darkmode, can be strenuous to look at all day especially for technicians
The agent dashboard includes a note-taking and messaging feature, which is a great conduit for collaborative solutions to incidents.
Zendesk is predominantly a Help Desk system. However, its excellent reporting and analysis modules make it a worthy entry in this guide to incident management software systems.
Zendesk is a very widely used system. It links together several avenues that enable users to solve problems before resorting to the IT staff for assistance. These features revolve around a knowledge management base with a searchable advice database. The next line of assistance lies with contact channels. Zendesk includes a chat window, which speeds up incident responses and problem resolution through interactive inquiries.
The Zendesk Guide Answer Bot is a great time saver that can filter out all Help Desk calls from users who just don’t want to search through the knowledgebase. This AI-driven virtual assistant can be set to present itself in the chatbox provided for contact by the user to support technicians. By working through guided questions, the chatbot will provide a solution without recourse to busy technicians. The ability of the system to rank successful solutions provides a machine learning process that continually improves the time it takes to find a solution.
The ticket management system in Zendesk enables agents to be assigned as the next available assistant. Tickets can be raised through a phone call or an email as well as via chat. They can be tracked, forwarded, split, and merged.
Zendesk Suite is accessed in the cloud so you don’t need to maintain software on-site. Monitoring and reporting functions enable you to assess agent performance and benchmark expected turnover. The reporting function also supports SLA goal compliance.
- Simple and intuitive interface
- Centralized ticketing management and chat help consolidate team-based tools
- The knowledgebase is easy to set up and helps reduce new tickets
- Pricing is based on the number of agents deployed
- The volume of settings and options can be overwhelming for smaller helpdesks
- Permission settings are too broad, filter and refinement options could be useful
Zendesk is charged on a per-agent per-month basis. The system is available in two levels, which are Professional and Enterprise. Both levels are suitable for incident management support. You can get a free trial of Zendesk to put it through its paces.
Incident Management in ITIL
ITIL guides businesses on how to manage IT resources and deliver services. It is broken up into five areas of competence, which are published as separate volumes. These are:
- ITIL Service Strategy: High-level planning.
- ITIL Service Design: Detailed planning.
- ITIL Service Transition: Change management.
- ITIL Service Operation: Day-to-day systems management.
- ITIL Continual Service Improvement: Ongoing performance monitoring and systems refinement.
The Service Operations guidelines are divided into five processes:
- Incident Management
- Event Management
- Access Management
- Request Fulfillment
- Problem Management
The Incident Management process focuses on the actions needed to address problems as they unexpectedly occur in order to get all systems functioning satisfactorily.
ITIL also includes the concept of functions, which defines the business areas or IT department team specialization that need to be involved in ITIL processes, such as Incident Management. The four functions that are concerned with the Service Operations area of ITIL are:
- Incident Management
- Event Management
- Access Management
- Request Fulfillment
- Problem Management
Each of these functional teams will need to be involved in the Incident Management process and all will probably use different tools as well as collaborate with commonly used incident management tools. In many Incident Management responsibilities, IT departments and particularly managed service providers, could not function without support software. Incident management tools aid in the tracking of problem resolution, team management, project management, and time management. All of these fields improve efficiency, reduce the possibility of human error, and save time and money. Many leading incident management tools also deploy AI processes and machine learning to reduce the workload of human resources.
Although the problems that incident management deals with show there is room for improvement, the ITIL Incident Management process itself does not include practices for change. The topic of adjusting systems to avoid the repetition of discovered problems is the responsibility of the Continual Service Improvement sector of ITIL. However, Incident Management operatives will need to alert the system improvement managers of any inherent system problems, This, together with fields such as risk management will also feedback information to the business function teams who are responsible for the Service Strategy and Service design actions of ITIL.
Planning for incident management
Getting comprehensive incident tracking tools in place and getting a full inventory of all of your equipment prepares you for when problems with your system will arise. There will be incidents arising from both your hardware and software. Some level of disruption is unavoidable. However, with the right tools and trained staff, you can minimize the damage that system errors cause and keep your business running.
Incident Management FAQs
What is the 3 strike rule in ITIL?
The 3-strike rule tries to get around the ITIL demand that only the user or client business can mark an incident as resolved. Problems arise when the user or business contact that raised the problem is unresponsive when asked to sign off and state that the problem has been resolved. The 3-strike rule states that if three attempts have been made to seek closure and no response was received, the operator can close the incident.
How many steps are involved in the incident management process?
There are 8 steps in the incident management process:
- Incident notification
- Incident definition
- Incident prioritization
- Incident allocation
- Task creation and tracking
- SLA management and escalation
- Incident resolution
- Incident closure
How does problem management and incident management differ?
An incident management issue is an event that prevents a system user from getting on with a task, a problem management issue is a service shortfall that is the root cause of a number of incidents. So, incident management fixes immediate problems and problem management fixes underlying problems.
What is automated incident management?
Automated incident management creates workflows and information sharing mechanisms that remove the need for management intervention in service desk scenarios. For example, a ticket can be raised by the user through a website. That request flows through a text recognition program that assigns the task to a work queue. That work queue prioritizes tasks and makes them available to task management screens used by individual technicians. The task manager includes task escalation and completion notification. All stages of the process are logged and statistics on throughput volumes will be stored for analysis.
How does an ITIL differentiate an incident and a problem?
The segmentation of processes within the ITIL Service Operation topic makes it easy to separate the work that needs to be carried out to identify and solve an incident and the efforts needed to work on problems. An incident is dealt with immediately, a problem needs planning and a strategy to resolve. Solving a problem will prevent the incidences that it caused from occurring again.