What’s The Problem With Problem Management?

Within far too many organizations, problem management can be considered somewhat of a “poor-relation” to its “sister” service desk and incident management activities. While the service desk and incident management processes often receive adequate investment in terms of staff, definition, training, and ongoing operation, problem management is often “something to be done later (when we have more time)”.

A common issue is that organizations think that they “do” problem management when in fact all they do is react to major incidents – they don’t do proactive problem management, that is investing in IT operations to prevent future issues, the proverbial “spending a penny to save a pound.” One possible cause of this all-too-common scenario is that problems are often confused with incidents (with the terminology often interchanged), or are seen as an incident state rather than a separate entity requiring a different type of response. However, of the major ITIL processes, truly effective problem management activity can provide some of the highest returns to an organization.

I recently participated in a BrightTalk problem management panel session with Barclay Rae (an independent management consultant with 25 years experience in the ITSM industry), Roger Bennett (MD of NGFF and winner of the itSMF USA Project of the Year award in 2008 while at Thomson Reuters), and Craig McDonogh (Director of Product Marketing for Service Now). Given my opening paragraph, we had a high attendance during what was a day filled with problem management-related webinars on BrightTalk … so maybe things are looking up for problem management. I hope so.

So what were the key points across the three presentations?

The on demand version of the webinar may watched via http://www.brighttalk.com/community/it-service-management/webcast/534/32737

So how are you doing with problem management? Any great success stories to share? I'd love to hear them.


UPDATE: Two popular ITIL-related blogs:

Please check out my latest blog ... http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann


Look beyond IT(IL) barriers

Problem management is a very well known disciplie (process) outside of IT. But they have a different name for it... People outside of IT have called it Risk Management for ages.
Why have IT people ignored "outside" knowledge fo so long? Would they have been open to other fields of knowledge, they would have recognized that there is a lot to learn from other disciplines. Risk management is a great example.
Instead, IT people, following ITIL, have used "best practices" to describe applications of the ancient Risk management process. Isn't capacity management focused on preventing capacity 'issues'? Isn't availability management focused at.... Isn't security management focused at... Etc.
ITIL now contains 27 best practices, but still only covers 5 or 6 processes. All other practices are applications of these processes, in terms of functions, often describing applications of the Risk management discipline.
Once you understand this, it gets so much easier to see how you can make the ITIL practices work in (your) practice.... And Poblem management will be a very valuable practice.... In practice.