ITIL Incident, is there a better word for it?

Unemployed skeptics have too much time to ponder things. As I lay sprawled on the footpath outside the labour exchange in the sun, it occured to me that although we are stuck with the word "incident" for historical reasons, there must be a better word for it.

The word incident implies something has happened, a step change in the service delivered, something broke, a service interruption - a visible event.

And yet it has grown to mean any deviation from the expected level of service, any state other than the desired or promised state - it is about what something is, not necessarily what just happened...


Better word for incident

I'm working for a company, whoch is offering a so called "IT Operations Autopilot", a piece of software that is able to dynamically apply predefined rules based on an IT model (cmdb-data) and monitoring metrics and events. To describe 'events' inside this Autopilot we had to find a correct wording, because 'events' is a technical term used in connection with monitoring, while the term 'incident' is, as said before, focussing more on the processes. We decided to use the term 'Issue', which for us seem to be neutral in all resprects:
To sum up, whats happening and to get some feedback from you, if our wording makes sense:
Monitoring data or events become an 'issue' (a case within our Autopilot-software), and might be forwarded to the service desk or ticketing system, where it becomes an incident (either resolved automatically, because there were rules successfully applied, or to be handled manually, because the Autopilot was not able to fix the issue.


incidents, issues and big bad bogeymen

Issue has too many hidden meanings in UK.
Issues are things that Civil Servants and other public sector staff refer to when they talk about problems as in "we have issues with hiding our excessive costs; there are too many staff with issues. The more excessively sub-normal managers try to substiute the word with "challenges".

Anyway, Issues are summarised by the lyrics of last years non-hit by the group Saturdays to wit:
Me and my heart we got issues
Don't know if i should hate you or miss you
Damn i wish that i could resist you
Can't decide if i should slap you or kiss you,
Me and my heart we got issues,issues,issues
We got issues issues issues.
Try substituting the word issues with incidents, challenges, problems and opportunites in turn

If the word incident is not acceptable then try some completely arbitrary, abstract and anodyne term?
Perhaps a really teeny weeny incident (event?) not yet logged by IM could be a Bambi.
When it goes to IM but before prioritisng it could be a Goldilocks.
After prioritisng then you may want multi-levels depending on the impact and urgency e.g.
A "can't be bothered to do anything" is a Goody;
A "think I might cope with this without a grown-up to help me" is a Trevor (or Tracey)
A really major incident as in "this is a bad bogie, I can't cope" becomes a Humphrey. A Humphrey would go to Problem Management -or Challenge, Issue or Opportunity Management as preferred and depending on the preceived positive or negative implications. But let's not offend anyone
That's enough for me today, I should still be asleep

How about "exception"

How about "exception" or "variance"? Hmm I'm getting back to "deviation"...


How about "event"?


That might be a trifle confusing... or are you suggesting an event and an incident are the same thing? Not as ITIL defines "event" they aren't. And the ITIL concept is a useful one


i think you'll struggle to better Incident.
Happening, anomaly, departure and perhaps episode are close.

somethign that is

Happening, departure and episode all suffer from the same drawback as incident; they imply something happened. Anomaly is nice because it covers both something that happened and somethign that is.

I suggested issue but my

I suggested issue but my post has vanished. I thought it might be failure at my end but I'm getting subscriptions for this thread. I suppose there might be an underlying cause or problem but right now I have an issue not an incident.

ITIL heretic

Although I gathered my fair share of ITIL certifications, I dare to use the term "service call" quite a lot. It is free from any positive or negative aura, and combines well with the ITIL term "service desk".


Humm, altough I use the term a lot, it's more a synonym for "user interaction" or even "ticket" or "call chase"...

An incident can be a service call category...

I think that an incident means "the user can not do hist work because your f***ng IT servce is not working properly", and it is not "the user is not much happy because your f***ng IT Service is not performing as agreed"

Antonio Valle
G2, Gobierno y Gestión de TI


Hi Antonio
No those are too long to be useful [joking]

Agree that "call'' and "ticket" are generic terms of which incident is one class. We need a word specific to incident

Incident, a better name?

looking to the fact: "trouble" or "inconvenience", even if they are dictionary equivalent. "Block" or "abnormal situation" (too long) if we think to the effect on user. We would need more imagination, as incident is not too bad

What about...


(aligns with ISO 9000)


thoughts of rubber and coconut oil and maid's uniforms and ...



What about "non conformity" (or however you say it in english!)

Antonio Valle
G2, Gobierno y Gestión de TI

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