In this post I’ll outline the difference between proactive and reactive problem management – which isn’t as obvious as it sounds. Reactive is the more common form because it’s easier, but in my view organizations should be doing both.
The key difference between reactive and proactive problem management is that reactive problem management involves looking at incidents that have happened and how they can be prevented from occurring in the future. Proactive problem management attempts to prevent incidents happening by identifying weaknesses in the IT infrastructure.
In reactive problem management, you use information from your ITSM tool to identify problems through repeat incident patterns. You prioritize the problems by considering frequency, impact and cost, and then tackle them through problem control and error control. (Problem control is about identifying the underlying cause of incidents, whereas error control is the process of monitoring, and providing solutions to, known errors.)
Proactive problem management is inherently more difficult than reactive problem management. Identifying and solving problems before they manifest themselves in the form of incidents requires the availability of excellent analytical skills plus the ability to carry out trend analysis and a range of preventative actions.
In addition, you need technologies such as a network monitoring system that can alert you to potential problems such as repeated low memory conditions or lack of disk space – something that many organizations don’t yet have.
So proactive problem management brings challenges – but it also brings major benefits. It:
• Deals with problems before incidents occur
• Keeps people working, thus maintaining productivity
• Demonstrates that the service desk is attuned to the business
• Creates a less stressful working environment as firefighting is reduced
As a result, proactive problem management has possibly the highest payback on investment of any of the core service desk processes, and will really help set your desk apart. It’s well worth overcoming the challenges so that you can do proactive, as well as reactive, problem management.
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.