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How incident management works in Jira Service Management


Incident management is the practice of responding to an unplanned event or service interruption and restoring the service to its operational state.

  • Incident: An unplanned interruption to a service or reduction in the service quality.
  • Major incident: An incident with significant business impact, requiring an immediate coordinated resolution.

A problem is the not-yet-known root cause behind one or more incidents.

Meeples working to fix an incident

Atlassian’s platform for incident management brings all of the context and data you need to resolve an incident quickly and efficiently. 

  • Within a single portal, agents can manage issues and user-reported incidents in Jira Service Management.
  • Agents can quickly escalate major incidents as an alert to the on-call IT Operations team.  Jira Service Management empowers IT and DevOps teams to stay in control during an incident by centralizing alerts, notifying the right people, and enabling them to collaborate and take rapid action.
  • Jira Service Management’s native asset and configuration management capabilities (included in Premium and Enterprise plans) help agents to understand dependencies within their IT infrastructure to locate potential causes of the incident.
  • Finally, Confluence’s shared workspace captures incident practices, processes, and procedures in one place — from runbooks, knowledge bases, and PIRs.

This seamless end-to-end incident management solution helps IT teams escalate, bring in the right responders, swarm, and ultimately minimize downtime.

The incident management process

Atlassian incident response diagram

The key to incident management is having a good process and sticking to it. Incident response is a pretty broad term, so let’s break it down a bit further into the most likely steps you'll perform once you’ve identified, categorized, and prioritized an incident:

  1. Initial diagnosis: DevOps style teams typically own an incident from diagnosis to resolution, while multi-tier service desks have a front-line team that attempts the same but when needed they can escalate to 2nd or 3rd level support teams. 
  2. Escalate: If necessary, the next team takes the logged data and continues with the diagnosis process, and, if this next team can’t diagnose the incident, it escalates to the next team.
  3. Communicate: The team regularly shares updates with impacted internal and external stakeholders.
  4. Investigation and diagnosis: This continues on until the nature of the incident is identified. Sometimes teams bring in outside resources or other department members in to consult and assist with the resolution.
  5. Resolution and recovery: In this step, the team arrives at a diagnosis and performs the necessary steps to resolve the incident. Recovery simply implies the amount of time it may take for operations to be fully restored, since some fixes (like bug patches, etc.) may require testing and deployment even after the proper resolution has been identified.
  6. Closure: If the incident was escalated, it is finally passed back to the service desk to be closed. To maintain quality and ensure a smooth process, only service desk employees are allowed to close incidents, and the incident owner should check with the person who reported the incident to confirm that the resolution is satisfactory and the incident can, in fact, be closed.
Book with lightbulb

For more information, check out our Incident Management page.

How to get started with incident management in Jira Service Management

How to get started with incident management

Jira Service Management provides an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) compliant incident management workflow called: Incident Management workflow for Jira Service Management. We recommend that you start with this workflow and adapt it to your specific business needs over time. Read more about editing workflows.

By default, the following fields are in your agent’s view of an incident. If you require additional fields, you can also add custom fields.

How to link multiple incidents into a problem report

Jira Service Management allows you to link multiple issues together. For example, you can link multiple incident records to a larger problem report. To link multiple incidents to a problem report: 

  1. View the incident record.
  2. Select Link Issue.
  3. In the linked issue field, select is caused by.
  4. Enter the issue (or select from the drop-down menu) for the issue you want to link to in the Issue field.
  5. Select Link.

How to create service level agreements (SLAs) for incident records

Jira Service Management provides powerful built-in SLAs, so teams can track how well they're meeting the level of service expected by their customers. Project admins can create SLA goals that specify the types of requests you want to track and the time it should take to resolve them. From there, you can define the conditions and calendars that impact when SLA measurements start, pause, or stop.

To create a new SLA:

  1. From your service project, go to Project settings > SLAs. All existing SLAs are displayed here.
  2. Select Add SLA.
  3. In the field next to the clock icon, enter a new name for the SLA or choose an existing name.
    1. (You won't be able to change the name of your SLA once it is created, so choose one that clearly explains what it measures.)
  4. Set goals and conditions for the SLA. Learn more about setting up SLA goals and setting up SLA time metrics.
  5. Select Save.

How to create a major incident in Jira Service Management

Part 1

To create a major incident in Jira Service Management, you will first need to complete your integrated Opsgenie setup. To set up Opsgenie, we recommend the following resources:

Part 2

Once you’ve completed your Opsgenie setup, you can create major incidents in Jira Service Management.

  1. From your service project select Incidents.
  2. Go to the relevant incident and select Create major incident.
  3. Select an Impacted service – this will alert the response team.
  4. Include a short description of the problem in the Incident message field. Enter an Incident message and Incident description.
  5. Select Priority.
  6. Select Create major incident to save.

Incident management best practices and tips

Make it easy to capture user and system-reported incidents

Jira Service Management is the source of truth for both minor and major incidents. The customer portal captures user-reported incidents in a complete and consistent manner, with all of the necessary information the support team needs to evaluate the incident. When employees or customers see an incident, they can report it in Jira Service Management. From there, incidents are tracked and routed to the right agent queues.

When it comes to detecting incidents and outages early, effective monitoring is the eyes and ears for IT Operations. For system-detected incidents, Jira Service Management easily integrates with over 200 app and web services, such as Slack, Datadog, Sumo Logic, and Nagios, to sync alert data and streamline your incident workflow.

Jira service management customer portal
IT Operations integrations with Slack

Reduce alert fatigue with smart on-call scheduling

When on-call staff are inundated with irrelevant alerts, they start getting alert fatigue and miss important notifications. Jira Service Management’s built-in incident management capabilities ensure your team never misses a critical alert.

On-call scheduling in Jira Service Management

By building schedules and defining escalation rules within one interface, your team always knows who is on-call and accountable during incidents. The solution groups alerts, filters out the noise, and notifies team members using multiple channels, such as text, phone call, mobile push, or email, along with the relevant context needed to immediately begin resolution.

Use ChatOps and runbooks to improve team coordination

With Jira Service Management, teams have a centralized place to collaborate, share real-time information, and fast-track resolution with the incident command center. Instead of navigating fragmented one-on-one chat updates or scrolling through long conversation histories, pre-define a video conference room for teams to chat dynamically, assign roles, and even take decisive actions right in the interface. By attaching runbooks to alerts, teams can quickly launch standard remediation tasks, either automatically or on-demand.

Team coordination in Jira Service Management

Runbooks are also great for documenting common troubleshooting methods to address alerts and resolve outages. By using Confluence for runbooks, your staff has all the information they need to quickly triage an incident, right at their fingertips. In many cases, teams can reduce incident resolution times by 40%.

Utilizing Confluence for documenting runbooks

Learn from the incident with a post-incident review (PIR)

During an incident, it’s hard to stop during all of the action to get visibility into what actually happened. With Jira Service Management, everything is recorded so you get full visibility into the entire incident lifecycle with an automatically generated incident timeline. Jira Service Management also automatically creates a postmortem report with all the relevant fields from the root cause, lead-up, mitigation, resolution, and lessons learned. Going through a PIR helps teams understand the contributing root causes and document the incident for future reference.

Additionally, Confluence provides a standardized environment with templates for cross-functional teams to collaborate on a PIR. Teams can even export PIRs directly into Confluence pages.

Utilizing easy integration with Confluence for post-incident reviews

Establish a proactive incident management playbook

Plan your incident response strategy in advance. You’ll alleviate stress, keep your team focused during the incident, and shorten the time to resolution. Make sure to include both operational and team-based collaboration practices:

  • Identify your team’s Incident Values, such as collaboration, communication, and “blameless” postmortems.
  • Clearly define what qualifies as a major incident.
  • Document your major incident practices.
  • Establish your Incident Response Communications, such as response templates and communications for stakeholders (both external and internal).
  • Determine the core team members on your incident response team-of-teams.
  • Establish your PIR practices.
  • Conduct blameless PIRs for all major incidents.
  • Publish and share PIR learnings.
  • Conduct major incident simulation drills.

Focus on improving mean time to recovery (MTTR)

Establishing a strong incident management process is crucial to reducing the impact of the incident and restoring services quickly. The key to improving response is lowering mean time to recovery (MTTR) and streamlining root cause analysis to prevent future outages. In fact, Forrester has found that 70% of incident response time is spent within the Investigation and Diagnosis phase.

Mean time to recovery and continuous improvement diagram

Build trust with centralized external communications

Many teams use a centralized dashboard, like Statuspage, to report on the status of critical services. Statuspage works as a single channel for clear and proactive mass communication to both internal and external users, along with automated notifications and updates.

Statuspage keeps internal teams informed of both scheduled and unplanned downtime as well. Customers and employees' can subscribe to updates, which promotes consistent communication and reduces manual updates.

Screenshot demonstrating Statuspage used as a centralized dashboard

Getting Started

Service Request Management

Getting Started

Problem Management