Despite all our best efforts, in the world of IT Service Management, incidents happen. Systems fail, outages occur, and fires need extinguishing. But what separates the truly great ITSM teams from the rest is how they learn and grow from these disruptive events. That’s where the Post Incident Review (PIR) comes in.

At its core, a PIR is all about taking a step back after an incident and asking the hard questions – what went wrong? What went right? How can we do better next time? It’s a chance to critically examine the incident’s causes, our response efforts, and opportunities for improvement.

But PIRs aren’t about playing the blame game. The best ones foster an environment of openness, where people feel safe to share perspectives without fear of reprisal. After all, the true value lies in extracting constructive lessons to strengthen our service.

Understanding Post-Incident Reviews

Post Incident Reviews are systematic examinations of incidents that have occurred, with the primary aim of understanding why they happened, how they were managed, and how similar incidents can be prevented or mitigated in the future. The key objectives of a PIR are:

  • Root Cause Analysis: Identifying the underlying issues that led to the incident.
  • Response Evaluation: Assessing the effectiveness of the incident response, including communication and resolution steps.
  • Continuous Improvement: Extracting valuable lessons to prevent recurrences and refine processes.

The Benefits of Conducting PIRs

Engaging in Post Incident Reviews yields numerous advantages for ITSM teams and the broader organisation:

  • Enhanced Incident Management: By deep-diving into incidents and their handling, teams can refine their incident management processes, making them more resilient against future disruptions.
  • Improved Service Quality: Learning from past incidents leads to higher service reliability and user satisfaction. This can be due to improved detection processes, updated runbooks or solving the underlying root causes.
  • Knowledge Sharing: PIRs facilitate the sharing of insights and best practices among team members, contributing to a more informed and capable ITSM workforce.
  • Accountability and Transparency: Conducting PIRs demonstrates a commitment to transparency and continuous improvement, fostering trust among stakeholders.

Real-world Impact: A Cautionary Tale

Consider the case of a hypothetical major e-commerce platform that experienced a significant outage during their busiest sales period. While the incident was eventually resolved, the lack of a proper PIR meant that the root cause remained unaddressed. Months later, a repeat of the incident occurred, resulting in substantial revenue losses and reputational damage.

This imaginary but likely tale drives home the importance of conducting thorough PIRs to prevent costly repetitions and ensure resilient operations.

Key Components of an Effective PIR

To maximise the value we can get out of a Post Incident Review, a number of key steps need to be taken:


  • Clearly define the scope and objectives of the PIR.
  • Ensure the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including those directly impacted.

Data Collection

  • Gather comprehensive information, including timelines, logs, and user reports, to construct a detailed incident timeline.


  • Conduct a thorough examination to identify root causes and evaluate the response effectiveness.


  • Develop actionable recommendations to prevent future occurrences and improve incident management.


  • Compile a detailed report summarising findings, analysis, and recommendations for future reference.


  • Implement recommendations and monitor their impact to drive continuous service improvement.

Best Practices for Constructive PIRs

To ensure Post Incident Reviews are both effective and constructive, consider the following best practices:

  • Foster a Blame-Free Environment: Encourage open and honest communication by focusing on the incident and its management, rather than on individual performance.
  • Be Thorough and Objective: Ensure that the review is comprehensive and based on facts rather than perceptions.
  • Engage the Right People: Include individuals with the necessary knowledge and experience to contribute meaningfully to the review.
  • Communicate Findings: Share the results of the PIR with all relevant stakeholders, including what was learned and the steps that will be taken to prevent recurrence.
  • Act on Recommendations: Ensure that the recommendations from the PIR are implemented and that their impact is monitored and reviewed with follow-up meetings scheduled at regular intervals to track progress.

Measuring Success: Tracking PIR Effectiveness

To ensure PIRs are delivering value, it’s important for an ITSM team to measure their effectiveness. Some of the key metrics we could track include:

  • Number of PIRs conducted
  • Percentage of recommendations implemented
  • Reduction in incident recurrence rates
  • Improvement in incident resolution times

Once gathered for a period of time, these metrics can provide quantifiable evidence of the impact PIRs have on service quality and organisational resilience.

Embedding a Culture of Continuous Learning

PIRs are not isolated events; they integrate seamlessly with other ITSM processes, such as Incident Management and Problem Management. By aligning PIRs with these processes, organisations can improve their culture around continuous improvement.

But beyond the process, it’s also about fostering the right mindset. One of psychological safety, where people feel empowered to surface issues without judgment. Where recommendations are genuinely implemented, not just given lip service.

It takes commitment from leadership and an unwavering belief that every incident, every outage, is an opportunity to emerge stronger and wiser.


In conclusion, Post Incident Reviews are a vital component of ITSM, offering a structured approach to learning from incidents and improving future responses. By conducting PIRs effectively, ITSM teams can enhance their service quality, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and build resilience against future incidents. Remember, the goal of a PIR is not to assign blame but to understand, learn, and improve. Embracing this mindset is key to reaping the full benefits of Post Incident Reviews.

Stay connected with Lean Tree as we continue to provide you with practical guidance, industry knowledge, and expertise to make the most of your ITSM endeavours. If you have specific themes or topics you’d like to explore further in subsequent blog posts or would like to discuss how we can support your technology transformation, please feel free to get in touch!

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