Introduction and Objectives
As was explained in the relevant section, Incident Management's sole aim is to restore quality of service as quickly as possible. It does not seek to determine the origins or causes of a degradation to service quality.
When a type of incident becomes recurrent or has a powerful impact on the IT structure, the role of Problem Management is to determine its causes and look for possible solutions.
The following concepts need to be distinguished:
Problem: the as-yet unidentified underlying cause of a series of incidents or an isolated incident of considerable importance.
Known error: A problem becomes a known error when its cause has been identified.
The main concepts involved in the process of Problem Management and their relationship with Incident Management, are summarised in the following interactive graphic:
The functions of Problem Management include:
- Identifying, logging and classifying problems.
- Supporting Incident Management by providing information and work-arounds or patches.
- Analysing and determining the causes of problems and putting forward solutions.
- Submitting RFCs to Change Management to make the necessary changes to the IT infrastructure.
- Conducting post-implementation follow-up of all changes to ensure they work correctly.
- Producing reports documenting the origins of, and solutions to, a problem, and also providing support for the IT structure as a whole.
- Analysing trends to prevent potential incidents.
The main benefits of correct Problem Management are:
- An improvement to the general quality of the IT services.
- The number of incidents is minimised.
- Incidents are resolved more quickly, and generally, at the first line of IT support, thus saving resources and unnecessary escalation.
- The documentation produced is of considerable value for Capacity Management, Availability Management and Service Level Management.
The main difficulties when implementing Problem Management may be summarised as:
- Establishing close cooperation between Incident Management and Problem Management. Without this cooperation, Incident Management will not have all the information it needs to solve problems quickly, and Problem Management will not have the information necessary to determine, classify and resolve problems.
- Keeping the associated databases up-to-date requires a commitment by all the parties involved. This frequently calls for close monitoring by the people in charge of IT infrastructure.
- Increased costs due to the need to hire specialist personnel, although these costs are more than offset by the benefits obtained.