Home > ITSM > Using Impact & Urgency to set Priority

Using Impact & Urgency to set Priority

I’m fairly active on several ITSM forums and have found myself commenting on the topic of using Impact & Urgency to set Priority on several occasions … so many, in fact, that I decided to write an article about it. A common question that repeatedly surfaces in these forums is, “What do you use for your lowest/highest SLA?”. The common responses range from overly complex formulas to overly simplified number of days or hours. The smarter solution might look something like this:

  1. What data element(s) should your SLA be based upon.
  2. How will you consistently set the data element(s) on which your SLA’s depend.

In response to #1 above, I usually base my SLA upon Priority. The list that I usually start with is as follows:


In response to #2 above, in order to drive consistency, I use the concept of Impact & Urgency to set Priority.  In order to effectively deploy this concept, you will need to:

  1. Create a list of Impacts
  2. Create a list of Urgencies
  3. Decide how the intersect between Impact & Urgency will affect Priority and thus your SLA

I recommend that you create a matrix that is similar to the one below:


Notice that the values for Impact, in order of highest impact to lowest, are:  Company, Department, Workgroup, and Single User.  The values for Urgency, in order of highest urgency to lowest, are:  Revenue Affected, Work Stopped, Work Impaired, and Aesthetic.

Also notice that I have assigned a numeric weight to each intersection.  For example, Company + Revenue Affected = 8.  Single User + Aesthetic = 2.  Now by taking these numeric weights and applying them to Priority and then using them to determine the SLA will look something like this:


Some people question why all of my SLA Response Times are the same.  The reason that I suggest this methodology is that when you’re in the triage phase of incident management and you’re assigning priorities to service requests or incidents, you don’t know which ones are which ahead of time.  Therefore, the safest approach is to set a response time that will work for all types of requests and apply it to everything.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here or email evans@martek.net.

Categories: ITSM
  1. Johnk891
    May 10, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    But a smiling visitor here to share the love , btw outstanding layout. dfegdkddfdkc

  1. November 29, 2012 at 7:01 AM

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