Impact Urgency Matrix Defined!

Author by Matt Smith

As with any Incident Management process definition an important cornerstone that ultimately determines an incidents priority which drives the response and resolution time is an Impact-Urgency matrix.  While some of you may prefer to chat about the movie the Matrix (which by the way is coming out as a reboot - I'm so excited!) today we will focus on some examples of the impact urgency matrix and more specifically the thought process of how to best tackle this conversation.

The first point I would like to make is when embarking on defining your incident processes please remember the KISS principle (Keep it short and simple, Keep it simple stupid).  For those of you that are a little rusty on this concept or haven't heard of it the principle focuses on a goal of having simplicity in the design and any unnecessary complexity should be avoided.  This concept should be applied to the manner you define your impact and urgency matrix.  You can always make it more complex and it's really hard to make it less complex after you've implementated it.  So the punchline is do yourself a favor and strive for simplicity to add complexity versus the other way around.  As I typed the last sentence I did chuckle a bit - being a fellow engineering mind it seems oxymoronic to want to seek to achieve simplicity.  What about the edge cases - the "what ifs" - we should cover all conditions right?!  Well I'll repeat: keep it simple to start you can always make it more complex.

The second point I would like to make is where you start likely won't be where you ultimately end up.  Perfection is the enemy of progress and perfection in this case is starting from a position of simplicity where you may add complexity as you encounter the need to do so.  As you get some cycles through the system you will likely find a reason to tweak your SLAs, the Impact-Urgency matrix, and/or the priority you have set with each of the intersections.  (example: Impact= Medium, Urgency = High - this for some will derive a High priority and for some will derive a critical priority)

Ok - so let's move on to some examples......

Here is a "3x3" impact urgency matrix.  OOTB (Out of the Box) the matrix will look similar to this.  This is many times the starting point which we recommend a customer to start from.  OOTB Low-Low does equate to a priority level of "5-planning" which I've found some clients elect to hide/not use within their matrix.  This matrix is a great representative example of the right level of simplicity for an organization just starting out within ITSM space.

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Here is a "4x4" impact urgency matrix.  This matrix has more complexity and I've seen clients implement it at organizations that need more granularity in the selection of impact and urgency given their size or organizational complexity. This matrix is a great representative example of just a little bit more complexity while seeking to stick within the KISS principle mindset.

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I hope you have found this informative - it's tough packing everything on this topic into a blog post.  Concurrency possesses deep expertise within the IT Service Management space on both the process and technology side of the house.  So as you find yourselves wrestling with topics in this space please do feel free to reach out. I would love to catch up if this peaks your interest. 

If you have any further questions around our offerings within the ServiceNow practice at Concurrency please feel to contact us.

Thanks for reading!