Incident checklists – why one should have it & how one should prepare it

I wrote few weeks ago about how you can manage the incidents effectively. The post is available here for your reading. I mentioned there about the Detect Diagnose Resolve framework and how you can use it to effectively to manage the incidents.

It is very important to quickly detect the incident cause when you are into the incident management process. Unless you find out where the cause lies, it would take a long time to actually diagnose & resolve the issue.

‘Incident Checklist’ is the most important tool / process one should have with every application support analyst so as to quickly start the incident analysis and rule out obvious causes of the errors.

However what is the ideal way one should prepare and subsequently the incident checklists?


I guess I do not need to convince the application support community about the need to have incident checklists prepared for their use. They are handy documents / tools that give essential information that you could use during the incident. Such as,

  • Important phone numbers & emails
  • Stakeholder lists
  • Technical task list for carrying out health check
  • Quick tips to help make decisions
  • Escalation paths
  • Other support group contacts

Once you have a good checklist consisting the above details, you should try and review & update it as often as you should to ensure that stays useful. 


The most important aspects of the incident checklist are that it should,

  • Not be overly cluttered
  • Simple and easy to understand
  • With clear instructions on to do’s & not to do’s.
  • Not contain any sensitive data i.e., passwords, user ids etc.

You might be wondering what is the best format for you to prepare the incident checklist? Should it be a MS word document, Excel, PowerPoint or an Image or a PDF or an online tool?

Qantas380_1QF380_2In my opinion, “Flight safety cards” are the best example of the incident checklists. They give all the necessary information of how one should react to the emergency situation, important information such as nearest exits, Do’s & Don’ts during the crisis and so on.

Support teams should actually take this example and prepare their incident checklists in a way it satisfies the criteria I mentioned earlier.


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