In my first post in this series, I explained the difference between problem management and incident management, and why you need both. Now I want to discuss some of the practicalities of problem management. Let’s take a look at a few factors that we have found to be common across organizations that succeed with problem management.
Before the service desk team can make an effective start on problem management, they will need to create a clear definition of incidents and problems – which entails making a clear distinction between the two (please see my earlier post for some help here).
A common language
Service desks and IT teams often have a lot of different ways of referring to incidents: as “issues”, “problems”, “interruptions”, “customer contacts” etc. Before implementing problem management, it helps to establish a common language and way of thinking about incidents and problems. ITIL can provide the terminology you need.
Projections of potential impact
Analyze existing metrics to see how many incidents your desk handles each month, and how many of these are escalated. See how many repeat incidents you’ve been getting: these are the ones that problem management can reduce. Also try to estimate the downtime and loss of customer satisfaction caused by repeat incidents. With this type of analysis, you can demonstrate the potential savings and other benefits from problem management, which will help you to justify hiring a problem manager.
Enough time and resources
Whether or not you’re able to hire a dedicated problem manager, you’ll need to allow time for implementing problem management, ensuring that you make sufficient allowance for the potential impact on your service desk. You might also need to arrange some training. Consider working with an experienced consultant to smooth the transition.
A mature incident process
Problem management is almost totally reliant on the inputs and information from the incident management process. Therefore it’s important to make sure you have a mature and established incident management process before you start on problem management.
These are probably the most important things to have in place before you start on problem management. The other key success factor is the problem manager. I’ll look at the attributes of this important individual next time.
If you’d like to know more you can also download our Smart Guide to discover what every Service Desk Manager must know about Problem Management.