I’d always recommend appointing a dedicated problem manager if possible. Some service desk teams, particularly smaller ones, do try to cover the role by asking a first-line analyst to take it on alongside their existing job. This isn’t ideal because a problem manager role requires a different set of skills and attributes, as well as a certain distance from what is happening on the first line.
Regardless of how the post is filled, the problem manager requires certain attributes.
• Excellent analytical skills so that they can quickly identify patterns and trends in data sent over from incident management.
• Excellent time management and organizational skills so that they can keep track of multiple problems at any one time. They need to know what the problems are, which teams they have been referred to, and who to chase for resolution – and keep the first line up to date with it all so they can maintain a dialogue with the customer if appropriate.
• Excellent communication skills so that they are comfortable speaking to a variety of teams and individuals, including customers at all levels and technicians.
One thing they don’t need is strong technical skills – it’s more important to have those communication skills, coupled with a strong, confident personality, so that they can get other people to provide solutions.
What sort of background will this remarkable individual come from? Typically problem managers come from the second- or third-line teams, where they will have experienced problem management – in practice if not in name. And, if you do need to use a part-time problem manager, a second- or third-line analyst may find it easier to divide their time than someone on the first line would.
That covers the main success factors. In my next post in this series I will be examining some of the different approaches to 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.