Incident management vs. event management

Incident management vs. event management

As you explore IT event management and IT incident management, they may look and even sound similar, but it’s essential to understand how they differ. Your IT management team needs to know what to look for, both in an event and an incident, so they can resolve any red-flag issues and return your system to normalcy. 

But why is it so important to recognize the difference? As you work to monitor events and identify incidents, your resolution process will help to avoid and prevent future incidents and the associated downtime. Recognizing the difference and resolving incidents also ensures that your team is more productive and that your customers will have a better experience. 

Defined, IT event management is primarily a matter of monitoring and collecting log data for what’s happening with your IT systems. It’s passive: you’re gauging the functionality of your systems and creating records to track events and related data. 

For IT incident management, the active process involves unexpected interruptions. When things go wrong, you must collect details about what happened so you can take action to correct the incident and prevent it from happening again. 

Let’s consider these two terms further.

What is an incident?

An incident is an unplanned event in IT service that may impact your customers and your business. You may already have alerts associated with the incident to flag them for your immediate attention and ensure it’s resolved as quickly as possible. Of course, while you may have many events at your business, not all events become an incident. 

If an event does not directly impact the customer or their experience, it’s probably not severe enough to warrant an immediate flag and resolution. You may categorize your incidents into major, repetitive, or complex criticality types. For each type of incident, you should be prepared to dedicate the proper response to the criticality of the event that’s taking place. 

What is IT Incident Management? 

Incident management is about how you respond to interruptions in your IT services. When you encounter an unexpected event, your system can flag the event and ensure a quick and effective resolution. 

What is an event?

An event is all about change in the IT industry. Your goal is to detect and log those service changes, whether something as simple as a user login or something more complex, like server maintenance. By identifying and tracking those events over time, you may notice patterns that indicate issues that will affect your customer’s experience. 

Based on the criticality of those issues, you’ll prioritize the events in your log and act to resolve the more urgent events first. You’ll likely have an associated alert if the event is of utmost importance. In those customer-impacting scenarios, the event becomes an incident, and your team will work to resolve it. 

What is IT Event Management?

IT event management allows you to gauge the severity of an event and flag it as an incident for further attention as needed. You must detect what makes up an event versus an incident to quickly and affordably gauge how the event will impact your company’s performance and service. 

What is the IT Event Management lifecycle? 

IT event management is a process; you can better understand and address it when you have a better sense of what it looks like and how it works. Here’s a quick run-through of the IT event management lifecycle, with the steps that are part of the process. 

  • Occurrence: an event occurs in your IT systems.
  • Detection: your IT monitoring tool detects the event.
  • Record: your system log records the event.
  • Notification: depending on the severity or status of the event, your system may raise an alert and notify your team about the event’s occurrence.
  • Correlation: your system will analyze the event to determine how it compares with other events based on predefined parameters. Based on those findings, your system may determine that the event is an incident, so you can take action to resolve it.
  • Response: your system will gather and record more details about the event. If the event is causal, your system may resolve the issue or flag it for a team member to resolve it. The system may also gather additional context on the incident or event.
  • Closure: the incident is closed when the appropriate action or response has been taken. The system will log the response. Then, the incident or event will be updated and completed.

The IT event management lifecycle is an ongoing process. It’s not one-and-done. The lifecycle will continue through all the events and incidents flagged and resolved through your workflow and business operations. 

What is event correlation?

Event correlation allows for the collection and filtering of events, so you can focus on the patterns inherent in the events. Then, with careful study, you can better gauge which events are most important, which ones may threaten your security, and how to reduce the noise to resolve the incidents quickly and effectively. 

Of course, your system may also flag incidents or anomalies as part of the process. Those events will be flagged in those instances so that your team can be notified to take corrective action. 

What are the biggest challenges for Incident and Event Management?

As you face the realities of incident and event management, you’ll notice that you’ll constantly encounter challenges affecting your entire workflow. Furthermore, with these monumental challenges, you’ll see why they repeatedly occur and how they adversely affect your company’s growth and success. 

Staff utilization

While you may have great employees, you may not have prepared them to handle the incidents your business faces. It may be a matter of training or how your team is organized. Whatever the root causes may be, your challenge is that you cannot quickly and effectively monitor and address the incidents. Your team is just not able to handle those incidents. 


Cost is always a challenge for incident and event management. The cost of bringing on support staff and investing in the necessary tools can be expensive. The growing list of requirements includes automation, email and phone systems, intelligence, support ticketing and monitoring platforms, and more. This may be one of the most daunting challenges you face. 


You need to maintain accurate and productive communications with your team and customers. Communication challenges are usually not as simple as they sound, though. You need to identify incidents and events quickly. Then, you need to alert your team and work to resolve the issues. 

Ineffective and haphazard communications with staff and customers can lead to further problems. For example, if you haven’t determined a plan of action or which channels you’ll use for regular communications, your incident and its resolution could quickly snowball into further challenges. Poor communication can lead to issues with retention, customer dissatisfaction, and even employee-morale issues.  

How do you deal with these challenges?

Dealing with the challenges of incident and event management is an ongoing process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but these challenges also go to the very core of your company. As you address these issues, you’re reiterating the values that your company believes in. Here are some ways to deal with those challenges in incident and event management. 


Training and a comprehensive knowledge base are just two pieces of what should be an ongoing effort to fully onboard and bring your staff to its full effectiveness. You can and should develop flowcharts, tip sheets, diagrams, and other helpful documentation if needed.

Then, put those essential resources to work for you. Your staff will only be able to effectively identify and resolve incidents if they have the knowledge and training they need to succeed. Put them into action while ensuring they’ll take steps to resolve the incident quickly and effectively. 


The solution to cost is often a multi-tiered approach. As you invest in automation, better and faster platforms, and effective communication channels (phone, email, chat, and messaging), your team will work smarter, not harder. While you’ll deal with costs up front for many of these solutions, you and your company will reap the benefits for years to come.

You’ll also be able to prevent and resolve incidents faster, which ensures a better user experience. A faster, more effective resolution also improves your staff’s morale. Workplace satisfaction has known benefits, including maintaining a productive and satisfied team. And a great team delivers an ongoing and positive impact on speed and conversions. 


Ultimately, so much of the success or failure of incident and event management comes down to effective communication. While companies often overlook communication, it’s the best way to build relationships, share information across the organization, and foster trust. With the right strategic approach and planning, you can weather nearly any crisis, especially if you maintain effective communication. 

Of course, communication doesn’t just happen, and there are always ways that you can be more effective with your communication efforts. First, focus on being proactive instead of reactive while you collect the data about the incident or event. Then, as you respond to the incidents, remember that your actions and words can either build the relationship or destroy it.

While you might worry about saying the wrong thing to your team and customers, your effort and dedication to keeping them in the loop make a difference. Think and plan to make the most out of your communication efforts now and in the future. Here are a few tips. 

Define an incident

You should know what makes up an incident, how critical it has to be, and what you’ll do and say about it. While you don’t necessarily have to offer all the solutions in the first 60 seconds, you should know how you plan to proceed when an incident happens. 

Communication channels

As you implement dedicated tools and resources, your team and customers will know what’s going on and how you plan to resolve every incident promptly. Of course, you’ll also need to specify which channels to use for incident communication. Then, be consistent with your regular communications to your customers and employees. 

Update your status

A quick status page on your website is one of the most common go-to solutions for incident management. It takes just a few minutes to update it when there’s a known incident, and then you can post the resolution. In addition, it helps your teams and customers trust you more because you’re transparent about what’s happening and what you’re doing to fix the issue.

Target your alerts

Your goal is to keep your team and customers updated on your status, but you should also tailor your communication efforts to the right audience. For example, you may offer different messaging and reports to your team than what you share with your customers or prospects. 

Make it easy

When you’re in the middle of an incident, you probably only have a little time to put together the right messaging for your audience. That’s why it’s essential to think ahead and tailor templates to various scenarios, making it quick and easy to get the messaging out there immediately. 

Ensure a professional and timely response

Your customers and team will remember how you handled the situation, what you said, and how quickly you responded. If it’s a minor incident, a single message might be enough. However, with a significant and ongoing incident, keep your team and customers updated. You want them to be sure of what’s going on. Worse yet, you don’t want to ignite frustration. 

With your IT services, unexpected incidents happen despite your planning and prevention efforts. Even though you’d love to avoid those situations altogether, it’s more helpful to accept the inevitability of incidents. Then, you can put plans and materials in place with incident management and event management. 

Your goal is to ensure those incidents don’t adversely affect your productivity or customer experience efforts. So, take steps to rise above potentially disruptive incidents with a stronger, more resilient team and regular communication to ensure that you’re offering the timely support and services your customers need. Those efforts go a long way in achieving the customer success and satisfaction that they deserve and expect.