Impact v Urgency

General discussion on all aspects of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
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Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:49 am

Could somebody please help me out here...

For years we have prioritised incidents in a prehistoric way, with the use of lists "if its this service, its a p1..etc". I am hoping to shorly implement impact v urgency however i have hit a few stumbling blocks and cant for the life of me find any help in the books (maybe i have just missed it??)

So, i have 4 priorities. 1 - 4. Which means in turn 4 definitions for impact and urgency. I have the impact statements which is quite straight forward. My question is on urgency....

Should i have urgency statements of:

1. Needs an immediate fix
2. Needs fixing in 4 hours
3. Needs fixing in 24 hours
4. no time scale associated


As i believe priority to be dynamic in that the urgency can differ depending on the length of time the fix is taking, i cant see what else these statements can be?

Any help much appreciated!

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Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:19 am


if you have four levels of impact and four levels of urgency then you might find you have sixteen priorities because priority is not impact versus urgency but a function of impact and urgency.

Impact is about how much it is costing or how high the risk is of cost
urgency is about how much it will cost (or risk) every moment service is not restored.

The trouble is that costs can be at a steady rate, a varying rate or they can be milestone related. So urgency is a bit tricky. Your idea of fixed time point targets will fall foul of any situation where the costs become important at different time points (like 15 hours).

Don't forget that the reason for assigning priorities is simply to enable you to best allocate resources when demand exceeds their availability.
"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:24 am

Not disagreeing with Diarmid, exactly, but Impact is not just about cost. It is about Impact to the Business. I have been working recently in the NHS, where Impact is about Clinical Impact.

I always use (straight from the book) High, Medium Low Impact and the same for Urgency, giving 5 priority levels
Liz Gallacher,
Accredited ITIL and ISO/IEC20000 Trainer and Consultant - Freelance
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Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:56 am

I like 3 Priorities... it's typically either do it right now, or follow the sequence of arrival, or get to it when there is nothing else pressing.

Liz is right - if you can't figure it out the ITIL book would be your best example (i can't believe i've just said that). IMHO it is pretty clear about the whole impact/urgency and priority business.

But, always make sure you understand what it means to your organization, because what's urgent in my shop may not be in yours.
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Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:08 am

We have three levels of Impact - High, Medium, Low
and three levels or Urgency - High, Medium, Low

We have a matrix which automatically calculates the SLA (Priority) depending on the combination

So a medium impact and medium priority would be a severity 3 incident

A low impact but high urgency would also be a severity 3 incident

High/High however would be a severity 2

Above severity 2 we have severity 1 which is our Major Incident and this is Critical/Critical on the impact and urgency scale
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