Steps To Get Started with Problem Management

Are you ready to finally improve (or kick start) your Problem Management? Check out the following steps to get you going on the right path:

  1. What’s your understanding of Incident vs. Problem Management? Incident seeks to restore an unplanned service disruption quickly while Problem aims to prevent disruptions all together. These two are very different yet much related. You need to understand how you currently operate with respect to restoring and preventing and what each means to your firm and IT Organization.
  2. If you currently combine restoration and prevention activities with little formal management over either, prevention efforts probably receive much lower priority than restoration efforts (even though prevention can reduce restoration efforts significantly). Due to its unplanned nature, it’s also common to not collect completely accurate information from each Incident Management cycle. It’s important to work with IT Organization managers, supervisors, and staff as well as customers to get the accurate information.
  3. Investigate your current activities to validate your theories. If needed, try to document the average duration and number of outages, and, if possible, include user downtime. Is your team capturing the information required to reduce their workload? Are they actively working to reduce outage duration and number of outages?
  4. Assess the capabilities of your staff. At a minimum determine:
    • Are there methods in place to record all Incident Management details?
    • Is there a formal method for developing workarounds to speed up resolutions?
    • Do you have preventative activities in place such as trend analysis using Pareto Analysis (i.e. the “80/20” rule)?
  5. To make Incident and Problem Management more distinct processes, start a service improvement program that formalizes each one. Whether these are carried out by the same staff at different times is up to your IT Organization. But in most cases, separate staff allows for more attention to be dedicated to the differing skills and job requirements of each. Software support tools here are critical to ensure Incident Management teams track and gather information that Problem Management will inevitably use for trend analysis. Be sure to allocate enough time for trend analysis and that there is a process for gathering industry information to identify any potential disruptions  others may experience. Using Pareto Analysis with simple control charts can quickly identify the top issue and focus prevention efforts for fastest and most visible improvement.

Reprinted from Global Knowledge

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