Incident management software
Keep your customers and employees safe by perfecting your plan of attack and stopping incidents in their tracks.
A guide to the best incident management software
Seasoned IT support teams are used to routine: a question comes in, they solve the ticket, and then move on to the next one. However, sometimes bigger, more systematic problems occur that affect multiple users and threaten to shut down the entire system.
This kind of problem is different from a typical ticket and often results in a flood of concerns from hundreds of customers or employees reporting the same issue. Routine ticketing management software isn’t equipped for these events—which is where incident management software comes in.
That said, all incident management software isn’t built the same, and understanding the nuances of different tools isn’t always straightforward. Fortunately, we’re here to make it easy.
In this article, we’ll review all of the topics listed below to ensure you’re ready to equip your team with the software they need to be successful.
- What is incident management software?
- Comparison chart for the best incident management tools
- Top 12 incident management software
- What are the common features of incident management system software?
- What are the benefits of incident management software?
- How to choose the right incident management system for your business?
- Frequently asked questions
- How Zendesk helps incident management
- Ready to try incident management software?
What is incident management software?
Incident management software is an application that helps IT teams track and respond to unexpected problems and outages with the assets they manage. Incident management applications have many tools, such as issue tracking, that help users resolve issues effectively and efficiently.
Who uses incident management software?
Internal and external IT support teams use incident management software. These teams support the internal IT needs of their organization as well as external-facing technologies. You’ll find these teams in all kinds of industries and companies.
What does incident tracking software do?
Incident reporting software makes the process of tracking, responding to, and otherwise managing incidents easier and more effective. It does this by centralizing information for IT specialists, making it easier to collaborate on issues, tracking data related to incidents, and automating routine processes.
Comparison chart for the best incident management tools
Top 12 incident management software
When an incident occurs that may impact service to your customers or employees, nothing’s more important than effective communication and a quick resolution. Zendesk’s incident management capabilities help IT teams distribute relevant info to affected users and resolve issues quickly.
Among other things, Zendesk transforms the way your internal support team members work by enabling them to collaborate on incidents, escalate issues based on predefined policies, communicate with affected end-users across any channel, run post-mortems, identify fixes, and track incident causes and solutions.
From Good to Great
Quickly tracking, responding to, and resolving incidents requires an incident management platform that exists as an extension of your team. With strong out-of-the-box functionality, a wide range of integrations, and highly customizable workflow configurations, Zendesk takes your IT support teams from good to great.
Zendesk delivers a modern service experience for your customers and employees, enabling them to raise issues using voice, social, messaging, email, SMS, and other service channels. Unlike other platforms, Zendesk is designed with both the agent and customer in mind because it’s ultimately your agents who deliver the quality of your service experience.
A Centralized Hub of Visibility
Transparency and visibility are cornerstones of effective incident management, and Zendesk delivers smarter service at scale. With a centralized hub of tools, including pre-built dashboards, customer reports, and ticket routing, admins, agents, and managers can seamlessly flow from internal and external conversations to incident timelines. As a result, IT teams can get the information they need, when and where they need it, to solve issues quickly.
Keep your Customer’s Hard-Earned Loyalty
Unfortunately, outages and other incidents happen, and sometimes they negatively affect your customers and employees. But with an IT incident management software solution like Zendesk, you can mitigate the impact of service disruptions. Zendesk helps you restore normal operations as quickly as possible, communicate effectively with affected users during an incident, perform detailed root cause analysis, and share lessons across teams.
Taken together, all that can mean the difference between keeping and losing your customers’ and employees’ trust.
- Suite Team: $49 user/month
- Suite Growth: $79 user/month
- Suite Professional: $99 user/month
- Suite Enterprise: $150 user/month
Free trial: 14 days
Features of Zendesk
- Online, email, and phone support
- Custom contact form
- Web SDK and widget
- Embedded voice
- Automatic ticket creation
- Contextual self-service
- One help center
- Answer Bot and Flow Builder
- Unified agent workspace
- Custom and group views
- Knowledge base editor
Atlassian provides many products for internal support teams like IT and HR, but their incident management capabilities come with the Jira Service Management package. JIRA Service Management’s incident management software was upgraded in 2020 when it pulled in functionality from a separate product called OpsGenie. This brought in popular features such as incident swarming and on-call alerting features.
It’s worth noting that JIRA Service Management has much broader capabilities than just incident management. Its standard packages include self-service, ticketing management, configurable workflows, reporting and analytics, and much more. The software is especially popular among IT teams at businesses of all sizes.
All that said, to access more advanced incident management features, such as advanced alert integrations and incident investigations, you’ll need to opt for JIRA’s Premium or Enterprise plan.
- Standard: $20 per user/month
- Premium: $45 per user/month
- Enterprise: Custom
Free trial: 7 days
- 5000-agent limit
- Unlimited customer limits
- One site
- 250 GB file storage
- Self-service portal
- Email and embedded widget support
- Customizable queues
- Configurable workflows
- Unlimited alerts, email and SMS notifications
- Team: $19 per user/month
- Business: $39 per user/month
- Professional: $69 per user/month
- Enterprise: $89 per user/month
- Service portal
- Community and email support
- Optional onboarding services
- Knowledge base
- Satisfaction surveys
- Advanced collaboration tools
- Ticket management
- Multi-site support
- 150+ add on apps
- IT asset management
- Custom reports
- User portals
- Custom ticket attributes and rules
- Secure remote support
- User self-service
- Self-service portal
- Workflow automator
- Native app integrations
- Knowledge base
- Custom SSL
- Multiple portal languages
- Unlimited: $5 per user/month
- Business: $9 per user/month
- Business Plus: $19 per user/month
- Unlimited integrations
- Unlimited dashboards
- Unlimited Gantt charts
- Agile reporting
- User groups
- 24/7 support
- In-app video recording
- Auto assignment
- Automated change approvals
- Virtual agents
- Built-in dashboards
- Mobile app
- Knowledge management
- Request management
- Standard: $10/user per month
- Professional: $21/user per month
- Enterprise: $50/user per month
- Incident lifecycle management
- Multi-channel support
- Web-based portal
- Defined escalation paths
- Automated notifications
- User surveys
- Knowledge base
- SLA management
- Help desk reports
- Free onboarding
- Per-device pricing
- Custom alerts
- Ninja data protection
- Task manager
- Automated incident management
- Freelancer: $24/month
- Small Team: $64/month
- Business: $120/month
- Unlimited phone calls
- Email alerts
- Push notifications
- Incident timeline
- Screenshots & error logs
- Custom subdomain
- Email support
- Starter: $5 per user/month
- Growth: $23 per user/month
- Enterprise: $25 per user/month
- 100+ integrations
- Streaming analytics architecture
- Post-incident reviews
- On-call scheduling
- Rules engine
- Up 10 users
- Incident rerouting
- Professional: $21 per user/month
- Business: $41 per user/month
- Unlimited international SMS notifications, schedules, escalation policies
- Ticketing integrations
- Email and chat support
- 5 users per escalation level
- 1 event routing rule
- Notification and incident reporting
SolarWinds makes it clear who and what its service desk is designed for, billing their solution as “A modern IT service management (ITSM) solution to eliminate barriers to employee support services.” Put another way, SolarWinds is designed to help internal IT teams manage day-to-day problems and resolve incidents quickly.
SolarWinds is a true ITIL incident management software because it helps facilitate ITIL best practices with features like self-service articles, incident lifecycle visualization, and issue escalation.
In addition to managing incidents, IT teams can use SolarWinds to monitor compliance risks, control their inventory, manage digital assets, and much more. While SolarWinds can work for any size company, it’s mainly used by mid-market companies with between 51 and 1000 employees, according to G2.
Free trial: 30 days
Spiceworks is a unique option to consider as your incident management platform not because of its features but because of its pricing model. All Spiceworks products are completely free because they have an ad-based revenue model. So instead of paying licensing fees, Spiceworks users just have to contend with the banner ads that are native to the Spiceworks interface.
Other than the unique ad-based model, Spiceworks functions much like any other IT incident management system. Spiceworks is cloud-based software that you can configure with custom alerts and automated escalation processes. And it includes sophisticated reporting, an intuitive mobile app, and remote support session capabilities. Finally, as a Spiceworks user, you’ll also have access to the Spiceworks community, which is a large, active collection of IT professionals.
Pricing not available
Free trial: Not available
Key features of Spiceworks
Freshservice is an IT service management solution that includes incident management tools such as incident logging, analysis, and custom alerts. However, it’s worth noting that while you can access certain incident management features in Freshservice’s Starter and Growth plan, the capabilities are limited.
For customizable alerts, alert reporting, and monitoring tool integrations, you’ll need either the Pro or Enterprise plan.
Smaller teams and simpler operations tend to get the most value out of Freshservice because of its intuitive interface. But larger organizations may find Freshservice’s feature set lacking in extensive customization and configurability. Still, Freshservice has a broad scope of capabilities beyond incident management including ticketing management, knowledge base publishing, and more.
Starter: $19 per user/month
Growth: $49 per user/month
Pro: $89 per user/month
Free trial: 21 days
ClickUp can certainly double as an incident management tool but that’s not its primary design purpose. In reality, ClickUp is more akin to a project management tool, but as their website says, you can use ClickUp to “Plan, track, and manage any type of work.” Still, ClickUp doesn’t have the same level of incident management functionality as other, more purpose-built solutions.
That fact is reflected by its users, which—according to G2—are mostly marketing and technology teams, with a smaller proportion of IT teams using ClickUp. All that said, ClickUp is a powerful yet intuitive software that allows your team to track and assign tasks, set custom alerts, and escalate issues. And since ClickUp shows activity in real-time, it has the timely functionality that incident management requires.
Free trial: None
There’s no question that ServiceNow has a well-earned reputation as an enterprise platform for IT service teams. But that also speaks to the fact of how old and sometimes unintuitive their software can feel, as noted by several reviewers on G2. Even so, if you can overcome the learning curve, ServiceNow IT Service Management can be an effective incident management platform for any team.
There isn’t a feature missing with ServiceNow; its platform includes incident logging, notification and escalation, incident classification, root cause analysis, and incident resolution. It also can work as a full-fledged service desk with capabilities such as asset management, reporting, remote support, virtual agents, and ticketing management.
Pricing not available
Free trial: None
If you find that ManageEngine’s Servicedesk feels familiar, it may be because it’s actually the IT version of Zoho Desk. Similar in its extensibility to Zoho Desk, ManageEngine features IT incident tracking tools that help teams of all sizes in various industries quickly resolve tricky outages and incidents. Among its many capabilities, ManageEngine’s software supports advanced analytics, no-code workflow customizations, native integrations, and ITSM workflow tools.
All of ManageEngine’s plans come with incident management tools. And they include all the basics that you’ll need to resolve incidents before your customers even notice. Highlight features of ManageEngine starting plan include multi-channel support, incident lifecycle tracking, and defined escalation paths.
Free trial: 30 days
Formerly known as NinjaRMM, NinjaOne is IT incident management software that’s designed primarily for IT and network security teams. NinjaOne caters to both internal IT departments and managed service providers (MSPs). Of NinjaOne’s 252 reviews on G2, a large majority (152) of the reviews are from small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. So it appears to be a popular tool for smaller organizations.
Still, even though this IT incident management software has a lot of SMB customers, it doesn’t skimp on features. Using NinjaOne, you can monitor the entirety of your IT infrastructure and create custom alerts for cloud infrastructures, network devices, Windows servers, Mac and Windows laptops, and more. And within those applications, you can monitor all the information you might need, including user logs, running processes, disk usage, encryption status, memory, and much more.
Pricing not available
Free trial: 14 days
10. Better Uptime
Second-by-second incident timelines, smart incident merging, incident post-mortems, error logs, and historical uptime reporting are just a few of the robust features of Better Uptime’s incident management system. Better Uptime bills itself more broadly as an infrastructure monitoring platform and caters to small and large businesses alike. Its highest-rated features include multi-channel alerting and website monitoring.
Better Uptime works well for just about any website platform you can think of, including Shopify, WPEngine, Magento, Heroku, and many more. Its interface is clean and elegant with a wide variety of custom notification and prioritization options. Their customers include multinational corporations, large government agencies, and small businesses. However, if you’d like to try Better Uptime, you’ll need to pay or use their free plan because they don’t offer a free trial.
Free trial: None
11. Splunk On-Call
Splunk On-Call, formerly known as VictorOps, is one of many products offered by the parent company, Splunk. On-Call is a traditional incident management tool used by teams of all sizes to accelerate their incident response and reduce the time to acknowledge. As a part of the Splunk ecosystem of products, On-Call integrates seamlessly with other tools useful for observability such as log analysis, real-time user monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, and more.
Many of the positive On-Call customer reviews on G2 reference the product’s wide range of integrations, intuitive and powerful mobile and desktop apps, and the customization of escalation policies. And most negative reviews converge around the configuration, setup, and deployment process, which can be a bit cumbersome.
Free trial: 14 days
PagerDuty is an incident management platform that caters to clients in the government, education, non-profit, retail, financial services, and healthcare industries. Of their 596 reviews on G2, 80% are from customers at mid-market or enterprise companies. So while most PagerDuty customers appear to be at larger companies, some smaller businesses use their software too.
PagerDuty uses a combination of essential incident management features such as process automation, unlimited notifications, and escalation policies along with more advanced features like machine learning and data science techniques. And to top it off, PagerDuty has a wide selection of more than 650 native integrations and extensible APIs.
Free trial: 14 days
What are the common features of incident management system software?
Centralized incident logging
You can think of incident management tools as ticketing software with a specialized application. Just like ticketing software, incident management systems must include a centralized user hub where issues can be logged and tracked.
Every stakeholder should be able to easily see what the issue is, where it originated, its current status, and who’s handling it. The centralized incident log should also enable service agents to send and receive notifications, ideally in a variety of channels including email, SMS, social, voice, or whatever channel is most convenient.
Finally, in addition to the central ticketing area, agents should be able to communicate with each other and with customers from within the same application. This helps avoid the error-prone experience of dealing with an issue in one tab and communicating in another.
Incidents that affect customers or internal business operations can quickly become very expensive. Given the move towards more distributed teams, ensuring the right information gets to the right people as quickly as possible shouldn’t be left to chance.
Effective incident management software systems take the guesswork out of generating, routing, and prioritizing incidents by enabling teams to automate the logistics. If you’re considering an incident management tool, make sure it allows you to configure custom rules to handle incident logistics in the best way for your company. Additionally, don’t forget to check that the tool supports automatic incident generation from multiple channels like email, chat, and SMS.
Just as your agents need a centralized place to track incidents, customers need a centralized portal to log incidents. Ideally, this essential feature of your incident management platform will include customizable and predefined forms and templates as well as a customizable knowledge base.
The forms and templates enable customers to describe incidents in a way that your system can recognize and respond to automatically, which saves time and ensures accurate logging. And knowledge bases allow customers and/or agents to quickly look up potential solutions to problems.
Reporting and analytics
Managing incidents is important, but learning from them is even more crucial. With post-incident reporting and analytics, your team can evaluate the full scope of the systems and issues involved. Starting with a high or low severity analysis, the Incident Manager schedules a retrospective meeting with team members, engineers, owners, and related personnel within 72 hours of the incident. They then generate an incident document that includes:
The remediations section guides your team towards the next steps of preparation so that future incidents are easier to handle or eliminated altogether.
What are the benefits of incident management software?
Enhanced Operational Efficiency
No matter how resourceful your team is, incident management can make them more effective and efficient. After all, even a large team of all-star agents can’t hope to manually monitor enterprise systems dispersed across different time zones, teams, and different technology. Incident management solves that problem with monitoring solutions that alert your best agents to an issue as quickly as possible.
Incident management uses a process for every incident and eliminates guessing on the issue. It helps identify incident diagnosis, decides on the priority, and responds to resolve the issue. The end result is enhanced operational efficiency for individuals, teams, and the organization.
Greater Team Transparency
Ultimately, how fast an issue gets resolved depends on the ability of your service agents to communicate with customers and to get the information they need when they need it. Incident management helps facilitate both these imperatives by enabling agents to track incidents through their lifecycle while communicating with customers all within the same interface. This transparency of communication helps build team camaraderie and speeds up the path to resolution.
Enables Ongoing Improvement
Each incident tracked is the encapsulation of many important data points. It includes the time of several individuals for repair, the documentation created noting the resolution, and possibly the filing of a bug report. It should also inform an assessment of pain points in operating the application. This can inform the application roadmap and also spur conversations on high-value, low-effort enhancements that can be implemented. It can also help IT teams conceive new and better ways of working together. In both these ways, incident management creates a culture of ongoing improvement.
How to choose the right incident management system for your business?
Hopefully, you won’t be using your incident response software to solve major issues too often. But even when carrying out everyday tasks, it has to function exactly as expected–otherwise you risk extended outages that erode customer loyalty.
All this to say, choosing among the many options is a significant decision. To help you make the best decision possible, ask yourself the following three questions before deciding on a solution:
Does the tool fit my team and organization’s needs?
As obvious as it may sound, any tool you purchase should have the features you require. Beyond that, those features should be easily customizable—allowing you to fit them seamlessly into your processes and optimize your agents’ productivity. If you’re forced to build your processes around the tools, your team’s service delivery won’t be as efficient or resilient.
How well does it integrate with my existing tools?
In the same way that it’s important to stitch your workflows into your incident management platform, you also want to be able to stitch your other tools into your incident management platform. That way, you can pull necessary data into your system to help trigger time-saving automations and facilitate cross-functional collaboration.
What is its real cost?
Incident management software is licensed for sale, which often obscures the true cost of the software. Typically, customers overemphasize the cost of a software’s license instead of evaluating the cost of implementation and maintenance, which can equal or outweigh licensing costs. Not only that, superior incident management software, even if it costs more, will create cost-efficiencies that a budget solution may not. All this to say, it’s important to consider the true cost of any software you’re considering.
Frequently asked questions
Why is incident tracking software important?
Incident tracking software is important because it enhances communication when good communication is needed the most. Outages and system-wide problems will affect every business at one time or another, and incident tracking software helps the organization mitigate the impact of these incidents as well as they can.
What are the issues that I may face with incident management software?
The most commonly cited issues that users face with incident management software are deployment and configuration. The truth is, even the best incident management system is not meant to be set up and forgotten about.
Maximizing the value of your system depends on your ability to constantly improve processes, adjust automated workflows, edit escalation policies, and enhance incident monitoring.
What are the five stages of the incident management process?
- Preparation: The first step in any situation is being prepared. Preparation includes establishing policies and procedures for incident response, setting communication guidelines, analyzing your threat intelligence, conducting regular threat hunts, and evaluating your current ability to detect threats.
- Detection and reporting: Using your preparation materials, you can then monitor security events, detect any possible incidents, create incident tickets, and prepare an updateable report.
- Triage and analysis: This is where most of the work happens. As your team collects evidence, you’ll perform an endpoint and a binary analysis before looking at the scope of the damage.
- Containment and neutralization: Once you have the scope, your team can coordinate a shutdown of all affected systems, wipe them clean, and rebuild.
- Post-incident activity: Completing the incident means making sure it never happens again. Once everything is secure, complete a report, monitor the rebuilt systems, and update your preparation plans.
What is incident management in ticketing tools?
Incident ticketing systems create organized and trackable cases for your IT department, much like a ticketing system for a customer service team. With incident ticketing, IT reps can track cases from start to finish and decrease the number of recurring incidents by looking at patterns and eliminating root causes.
What is ITIL incident management?
ITIL (information technology infrastructure library) incident management is simply the process of restoring all services as quickly as possible once an incident is discovered. While ITIL IM includes plans for reacting quickly to incidents, it’s strictly a reactive process, not a proactive one. For proactive IM, you’ll want to look at your preparation breakdown and make sure you’re not letting any pesky bugs through the cracks.
What is the incident lifecycle?
The incident lifecycle is your organization’s plan of attack in regards to incident management. This plan often includes the five steps but is also specific to your tech stack and your specific company needs—especially regarding levels of security. For instance, a small startup won’t have the same data security concerns as an enterprise financial cooperation. No matter the size, your incident lifecycle should be repeatable for any incidents that occur within your business.
How Zendesk makes incident management easy
Because Zendesk integrates so easily, incident alerts can detect issues across your entire tech stack. Once an issue is detected, it automatically alerts the Zendesk Network Operating Center (ZNOC) and initiates incident management. Users also have the ability to self-report issues, but the majority of service incidents are discovered through automated monitoring.
When an issue is identified, the system ranks it from 0-4 based on urgency so that we know what battles to prioritize. Severity 4 is small bugs that won’t impact customers and severity 0 is critical risk of data loss or customer information leakage. From there, Zendesk follows established communication timelines for dealing with the incident and involves the necessary response teams.
With Zendesk handling most of the work on the back end, your employees are free to continue working in unaffected systems while they wait for the all clear.
Ready to try incident management software?
In today's customer-savvy world, it can be difficult to respond rapidly to each complaint or incident that comes across the service desk. But Zendesk makes it easy. Don't risk your customers’ hard-won loyalty.
Zendesk incident management transforms your internal support teams from good to great and earns your customer and employee loyalty by delivering a modern IT experience they can trust.
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