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Do you measure your incident backlog?

May 5th, 2010

Incident backlog provides an informative KPI that you should consider adding to your reporting repertoire. The KPI should measure the number of incidents outstanding that have missed an SLO or SLA. The KPI should be trended over time and should either be stable or decreasing.

In the example chart below, we can see the backlog rising over the last three months.

Incident Backlog

In this example we see the backlog increase by 50% over 3 months and should be investigated. To determine how urgent the issue is the first thing to explore is to breakdown the  backlog by incident priority.

Open Incidents

It would be highly unlikely that a backlog with high priority issues would persist over a period of time and the chart above now shows that a majority of the back log are priority 3 and 4. This is fairly common and is often systemically ignored. However, it is worthwhile to examine further. 

The reasons for the rising trend could include:

- Second line support personnel are not closing tickets in your ITSM tool.

- Resourcing level may not reflect the current volume of tickets being received on the Service Desk.

- The organizations Change and/or Release practice is causing unscheduled spikes in incident volume

- Are their particular workgroups with particularly high backlogs that could indicate a bottleneck?

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