When multiple users are affected by an incident, it can quickly escalate into a chaotic situation. To effectively manage and prioritize such incidents, organizations need a robust incident priority matrix.

An incident priority matrix is a tool organizations use to deal with critical issues quickly. It’s a roadmap for handling incidents efficiently.

To help you with setting up the incident priortiy matrix, here’s a guide that will provide you with the knowledge and skills to create an incident priority matrix that will transform your incident management process.

How incident management software can help you with incident priority matrix? Read here!

Understanding the Incident Priority Matrix

The incident priority matrix plays a crucial role in incident management by ensuring that incidents are addressed based on their impact and urgency. By assigning priority levels, organizations can allocate resources effectively and minimize the impact of incidents on their operations.

Definition and Importance of Incident Priority Matrix

The incident priority matrix, a crucial tool in incident classification, visually maps incident severity and urgency.

It categorizes incidents based on predefined criteria and provides a clear framework for prioritizing them.

For example, consider a scenario where a company experiences a hardware failure in one of its critical systems.

Without an incident management priority matrix, the incident management team may not fully understand the severity and urgency of the situation. As a result, they may not allocate the necessary resources to resolve the issue promptly, leading to prolonged downtime and potential financial losses.

However, with an incident priority matrix in place, the severity and urgency of the hardware failure can be accurately assessed, enabling the incident response team to take immediate action and minimize the impact on the company's operations.

What Is Impact and Urgency in Incident Management?


Impact refers to the severity of the consequences of an incident. It measures the extent to which the incident affects the organization's operations, productivity, or customer experience.

Here are some questions to consider when assessing impact:

  • How many users are affected by the incident?
  • What critical systems or processes are impacted?
  • What is the potential financial cost of the incident?
  • What is the potential reputational damage of the incident?


Urgency refers to the time sensitivity of an incident. It measures how quickly the incident needs to be resolved to prevent further harm or escalation. High-urgency incidents require immediate attention to minimize downtime, prevent data loss, or mitigate security risks.

Consider these questions when assessing urgency:

  • How quickly is the incident impacting operations?
  • Is the incident causing a loss of revenue or productivity?
  • Is the incident posing a security or safety risk?
  • Is there a potential for the incident to escalate to a more severe level?
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Key Components of an Incident Priority Matrix

An incident priority matrix consists of several key components that define its structure and functionality.

1.Incident categorization: It involves the identification and classification of incidents based on their nature and potential impact.

Common categories include hardware failures, software glitches, security breaches, and user errors.

For instance, within the category of hardware failures, incidents can be further classified based on the specific hardware component affected, such as servers, network devices, or storage systems. This level of granularity in incident categorization allows organizations to prioritize resources and address issues more effectively.

2. Priority levels: These levels define the severity and urgency of each incident category. Typically, priority levels range from low to critical, with corresponding response times and resource allocation. The specific priority levels will vary depending on the organization's requirements.

For example, a low priority incident may have a longer response time and require fewer resources compared to a critical priority incident that demands immediate attention and significant resource allocation.

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3. Prioritization framework: This framework outlines the rules and criteria for assigning priority levels to incidents. It ensures consistency and fairness in the prioritization process.

The prioritization framework may consider various factors, such as the potential impact on business operations, the number of users affected, and the availability of workarounds or temporary solutions.

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How to Create an Incident Priority Matrix

Here's a step-by-step guide to crafting an incident management priority matrix (IPM) that will streamline your incident management process:

Identify Your Business Impact Categories

The first step is to define the different levels of impact that incidents can have on your business. This involves conducting a business impact analysis to identify critical systems, processes, and data assets. Categorize incidents based on their impact on business operations, revenue generation, and customer satisfaction.

Common Impact Categories:

Catastrophic: Incidents that cause widespread outages, significant financial losses, or damage to the organization's reputation.

Major: Incidents that disrupt critical systems, hinder key business processes, or cause moderate financial losses.

Moderate: Incidents that affect specific systems or processes, causing minor disruptions or inconveniences to users.

Minor: Incidents that have minimal impact on operations and can be resolved with minimal effort.

Define Your Urgency Categories

Urgency in IT Service Management refers to the time sensitivity of an incident, indicating how quickly it needs to be resolved to prevent further harm or escalation.

To define urgency categories, consider the potential for downtime, data loss, security breaches, or safety hazards.

Common Urgency Categories:

Immediate: Incidents that require immediate attention to prevent critical data loss, security breaches, or safety hazards.

High: Incidents that require prompt attention to minimize downtime, prevent escalation, or address critical user issues.

Medium: Incidents that can be addressed within a reasonable timeframe, but still require attention to prevent potential disruptions.

Low: Incidents that can be scheduled for resolution during regular business hours and have minimal impact on operations.

Assign Priorities to Each Impact and Urgency Category

Once you've defined your impact and urgency categories, it's time to assign priorities to each combination.

A common approach is to use a numerical priority scale, ranging from P1 (highest priority) to P5 (lowest priority). Higher priority incidents demand immediate attention and resource allocation, while lower priority incidents can be addressed with less urgency.

Incident Priority Matrix Example:


























Defining Priority Levels

After categorizing incidents, the next step is to define the priority levels. Each incident category should be assigned a priority level based on its severity and urgency. The priority levels should align with your organization's goals, resources, and operational needs.

When defining priority levels, it is essential to consider factors such as the potential impact on operations, customer satisfaction, and safety.

For instance, a critical incident that affects the availability of a mission-critical system may be assigned the highest priority level. On the other hand, a minor incident that has minimal impact on operations may be assigned a lower priority level.

By assigning priority levels to incident categories, you provide a clear hierarchy that guides the incident resolution process. This ensures that critical incidents receive immediate attention while lower-priority incidents are addressed in a timely manner.

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Establishing a Prioritization Framework

Once the incident categories and priority levels are defined, the next step is to establish a prioritization framework. This framework will guide the assignment of priority levels to incidents based on predefined criteria.

The prioritization framework should consider factors such as incident impact, urgency, and resource availability. Also take into account any specific requirements or constraints unique to your organization.

For example, your prioritization framework may assign a higher priority level to incidents that have a severe impact on operations and require immediate resolution. On the other hand, incidents with a lower impact and urgency may be assigned a lower priority level.

This helps streamline the incident resolution process and ensures that resources are allocated effectively.

Creating an incident priority matrix is a dynamic process that requires regular review and refinement.

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Benefits of Using an Incident Priority Matrix

An incident priority matrix provides several valuable benefits that can enhance an organization's incident management process and overall IT operations. These benefits include:

Improved Incident Response:

By clearly defining incident priorities, an incident priority matrix helps organizations direct their attention and resources to the most critical issues first.

This prioritization ensures that high-impact incidents are addressed promptly, minimizing downtime, preventing further damage, and protecting the organization's reputation.

Moreover, it's a game-changer for improving time to resolution!

Increased IT Team Efficiency

An IPM fosters increased IT team efficiency by streamlining incident management processes and optimizing resource allocation.

The clear prioritization guidance helps IT teams focus their efforts on the most critical issues, avoiding wasted time and resources on less urgent incidents.

This efficient approach allows IT teams to handle a higher volume of incidents without compromising the quality of service, ensuring that all incidents are resolved promptly and effectively.

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Reduced Customer Impact

IPM plays a crucial role in minimizing customer impact, a key element in sustaining customer satisfaction and loyalty

By prioritizing incidents based on their potential impact on users, organizations can quickly address issues that directly affect customer experience, preventing widespread disruptions and minimizing frustration. This proactive approach demonstrates the organization's commitment to customer satisfaction and helps maintain a positive brand image.

Example of Incident Priority Matrices

Incident priority matrices can vary depending on the specific needs and requirements of an organization. However, some common examples include:

ITIL Incident Priority Matrix

The ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) incident priority matrix is a widely recognized and adopted framework for categorizing incidents based on their impact and urgency.

The matrix defines four levels of impact (catastrophic, major, minor, and trivial) and three levels of urgency (high, medium, and low). Each combination of impact and urgency results in a priority level (P1, P2, P3, and P4).

Custom Incident Priority Matrix

Organizations may also choose to develop their own custom incident priority matrix, taking into account their unique business needs, IT infrastructure, and support processes.

A custom matrix can provide greater flexibility and customization to align with specific organizational priorities and risk tolerance.

How Zenduty Can Help You Resolve Incidents Faster?

Incidents are inevitable. However, by implementing a robust incident priority matrix, organizations can effectively navigate these disruptions and minimize their impact.

Navigating through incidents can be a chaotic endeavor, especially when multiple users are affected. To effectively manage and prioritize incidents, adopting Zenduty's incident management platform can streamline your process and minimize downtime.

Additionally, Zenduty's incident priority matrix provides a clear framework for prioritizing incidents based on urgency and impact, ensuring that critical issues receive the attention they deserve.

General FaQ for Incident Priority Matrix

What is an incident priority matrix?

An incident priority matrix is a tool used to prioritize incidents based on their impact and urgency. It helps organizations focus their attention and resources on the most critical issues first, ensuring that incidents are handled promptly

How do I use an incident priority matrix?

When an incident occurs, the incident priority matrix should be used to assess the impact and urgency of the incident.

The incident priority matrix can be seamlessly integrated with other incident management tools, such as incident tracking systems and workflow automation tools, to create a streamlined incident response process that ensures incidents are handled promptly and effectively.

What are some best practices for using an incident priority matrix?

  • Clearly define impact and urgency levels
  • Regularly review and update the matrix
  • Provide training and guidance
  • Track and analyze incident data
  • Foster a culture of transparency and accountability

How do I create an incident priority matrix?

  • Define impact levels
  • Define urgency levels
  • Create the matrix: Combine the impact and urgency levels to create a matrix that defines priority levels for each combination.
  • Assign priority description
  • Communicate and train: Share the incident priority matrix with all relevant stakeholders and provide training to ensure its consistent application.

Anjali Udasi

As a technical writer, I love simplifying technical terms and write on latest technologies. Apart from that, I am interested in learning more about mental health and create awareness around it.