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- Problem management practice, unlike incident management practice, has a different focus point. As we already discussed, incident management has that very keen focus on once a service becomes abnormal, restoring the norms to that service as quickly as possible back to the business. And that often is through the use of workarounds, whereas contrast that to problem management, it's very much now about understanding the why. What's caused the nature of that incident, or typically, a trend of incidents to occur? Because that's often how we see the idea of what a true problem is. It's this chasing of what is the cause, or potential cause, of one or more incidents?


- There are three phases in the problem management practice. There's problem identification, which is the bit that Martin was just talking about, or alluding to there, where you have a trend in the number of incidents, and you start to say, hang on a minute. What's causing this? So raising the ticket, raising a problem ticket and identifying that there is a problem is the first phase. The second phase is problem control. And that's about prioritizing the problem, understanding the root cause of the problem, and trying to identify actually whether it's significant enough to warrant spending time trying to resolve it. If the decision is made around that it is, there is sufficient priority to resolve it, then actually the activity of coming up with a resolution for that problem is called error control. And your problem has changed status at that point to become a known error. Now, with error control, you could identify a permanent solution. And if you identify a permanent solution, the nirvana if you like, then that will need to go through our change control practice to ensure that it's meeting the business requirement, that actually it's not gonna cause any major impact, and most importantly, that it's actually cost justifiable to implement. So your error, your known error, could either be a permanent solution or it might be deemed that it's not significant enough to come up with a permanent solution. You will make due with the workaround. Or that actually we don't have the rights or the privileges or even the knowledge to permanently fix it. We will make due with the workaround. Now, both the permanent solution, potentially, and the workaround will stay within the known error database. If you're just reliant upon the workaround, we will constantly review that workaround to see whether it is still delivering the solution to the problem.


- And the overall idea, therefore, problem management practice, is over time if we're using those three phases of problem management, we'll get to a position that we get less incidents will occur or certainly stop reoccurrence of incidents back to the overall organization. And through that, the business experience is therefore so much better. They get consistency of service, less disruption to the organization, therefore, more volume is going to be delivered back to the organization.

About the Author

Martin is a professionally qualified and experienced IT Professional with over 25 years of experience in the IT industry. He has held a number of senior roles and has experience of large-scale IT Service Management implementation programs both in public and private sectors. He has over 15 years of experience working for QA as both a Senior principal lecturer/consultant and as Head of Service Management Product Development. Martin has delivered training to a wide variety of audiences, both UK and internationally, to consistently high levels of customer satisfaction.

His main role at QA is acting as a Head of Service Management Product Development to enable QA to deliver high quality, interactive training in the following areas:

  • Delivering a wide range of public ITIL, SIAM, and BRM courses
  • Delivering onsite ITIL and SIAM courses
  • Developing high-quality QA authored Service Management courses and courseware across all delivery mechanisms including classroom, e-learning, and virtual
  • Working with Industry partners to develop new curricula and courses – Recent examples include ITIL Practitioner and the BCS EXIN SIAM Foundation qualifications