African Firms Need Incident Management Skills

With the development and increase in Africa’s internet and telecom infrastructure, many large multinationals and smaller firms are locating to the continent. This is of course great for the economies of many African nations but is leading to an associated problem – a skills gap. Setting up company headquarters particularly where there’s a large amount of technology involved means that specialised skills can be needed. It’s obviously quite simple to set up these offices but the difficulty can be finding skilled staff who can operate and develop the sites. Implementing a local help desk for supporting technology is an obvious first step, but that requires support staff and equally important management to implement it.

Take for an example implementing an incident management system, a vital step for any IT support functionality. It’s of course perfectly possible to operate a help desk without this in place but it’s certainly not advisable. the problem is finding staff who understand the important of these systems and knowing how to implement them. Organisations like ITIL provide training and certification and offer these across Africa but only in a few countries.

Incident management tools (similarly referred to as defect management tools) are one of the most extensively used kinds of test tool. At a basic level incident management tools are actually used to carry out two critical activities: creation of an incident document; and maintenance of details regarding the incident as it advances through the incident life cycle. The degree of detail to become captured about the incident can be varied depending upon the characteristics of the tool on its own and the way in which the incident management tool is con?gured and utilized by the test organization.

For instance, the incident management tool might be con?gured so that lots of mandatory info is required so as to comply with industry or generic standards such as IEEE I044. In addition, work?ow regulations may likewise be actually applied to ensure that the agreed incident life cycle is stringently applied, with events only able to be assigned to specific teams or individuals. Alternatively. the tool might be con?gured to require very limited obligatory information. with the majority of ?elds being free format.

The information stored in these databases is obviously highly sensitive and confidential and should be treated as such. Access should be restricted an assigned to only senior managers who need to see the relevant data and make decisions regarding incidents. It is usually advisable to restrict access to the local network only and not from other locations. However if remote connections are needed they should be secure and encrypted preferably using something like a VPN service. There are companies who provide such services and indeed can allocate things like unique network IDs too. The company illustrated in this post supply VPNs, and residential IP addresses.

Incident management resources additionally use a database to store and manage specifics of incidents. This makes it possible for the event to be categorized baseding upon the values stored in suitable ?elds. Such values will change during the course of the incident life cycle since the incident is evaluated, debugged, ?xed and re-tested. It is typically possible to view the past history of modifications made to the incident. The data base structure likewise allows incidents to be searched and analysed (using either ?lters or more complicated SQL-type queries). This offers the foundation for management information about incidents. Note that as the values held against each incident update, the management information will certainly also change. Users need to be aware of the danger of using outdated reports. This information can also be used along with data held in test management tools when organizing and estimating for future projects.

It can also be analyzed to provide input to test process improvement projects. Fields in the database framework normally include:

  • Priority (e.g. high, medium, low).
  • Severity (e.g. high, medium, low).
  • Assignee (the person to whom the incident is presently assigned, e.; a developer for debugging, a tester to perform re-testing).
  • Status in the incident life cycle (e.g. New, Open, Fixed, Reopen, close.

This would enable management information to be generated from the incident management database regarding the number of high-priority incidents wk a status of Open or Reopen that are assigned to, say, Charles Collins, compared with the number assigned to Joan Williams. Some test management tools include fully integrated incident management tools as part of their core product, while other incident management tools can be integrated with test management, requirements management


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