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“How can we reduce incident resolution time? Our MTTR numbers are dragging us down!”
If you find yourself shouting this question at the sky, you’re hardly alone. It’s a chronic support problem. How do you reduce incident resolution time? As it turns out, there are some very effective and very sensible things that you can do. We’ll take a look at them in this post.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the ways that metrics are used to gauge incident resolution and decide which aspects of those metrics matter most to you.
The most basic metric for resolution time, of course, is MTTR (Mean Time to Resolution). It’s one of those metrics that upper management tends to like because it condenses everything into a nice, simple number. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those numbers which can turn out to be too simple, squeezing out important information, and leaving only a near-meaningless average.
Overall MTTR (covering response to all incidents) is a reliable metric if the data isn’t influenced by too many outliers, and if it is based on a broad spectrum of incidents which fit nicely under a bell-shaped curve. If, however, there exists two distinct sets of incidents, representing two different kinds of problems with very different resolution times, MTTR can be misleading. Since broad, bell-shaped curves often include anomalous outliers, the overall, system-wide MTTR may not be a good metric at all.
If you do have a choice when it comes to metrics, what are the alternatives to overall MTTR? Here are some recommendations:
How ever you measure resolution time though, the one constant is the need (usually accompanied by pressure from the C-suite) to keep that number down. What can you do?
There are several steps you can take and when done together can make a positive impact. Below are six essential steps you need to begin doing starting now:
There are plenty of other steps you can implement to cut response time. For example, for larger organizations, a formal command system with incident drills may be appropriate. By following the guidelines listed above, however, you should be able to bring your IT team’s MTTR numbers down to something that won’t leave you shouting at the sky.
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