Getting started with Problem Management

If the last few posts have convinced you to give Problem Management a try – I’m glad. If not, I reserve my right to nag in future posts.

So how do you get started with your own Problem Management function, and what do you need?

Aside from a basic process, ideally you will have a CMDB (Configuration Management Data Base). I’ve posted about the CMDB here and here. I say ideally, because you can still derive benefits from Problem Management even if you don’t have one yet.

Here’s how you can get started:

  1. Nominate a Problem Manager – this is your most important step. This can be a member of your existing team. It is, of course, a way to add a bit of ‘career progression’ for a member of your staff. More about this here. Make sure that your Problem Manager is 'empowered' - he or she should certainly own the Problem Management process.
  2. Make sure that your Problem Manager is aware of what a Problem is. Ideally, he/she will have been on an ITIL Foundation Course. Failing that, they should at least have a copy of the ITIL Service Delivery and Service Support books. We also have resources here, such as our Introduction to ITIL and Problem Management white papers.
  3. Make sure that they know how to use the software tool. If you are a Serio user, logging a Problem is just as easy as logging an Incident. However, make sure that they know:
  • How to raise a Problem directly from an Incident (see the Help topic ‘Raising a Problem from an Incident in SerioClient’)
  • How to link an Incident to a Problem (the easiest way is simple copy/paste)
  • How to use the 'link count' of linked Incidents in the management process
  1. Make sure that you are entering Cause Categories when you resolve an Incident. Nominate a Cause Category for ‘Unknown’ (or 'Potential Problem') so that your Problem Manager can check for these. Ensure that your Incident Management staff are also aware of what Problems are, and have a mechanism for suggesting/flagging them to the Problem Manager (before you can manage and resolve Problems, you have to identify them).
  2. Depending on the size of your organisation, you may need a Problem Management team. Before you cry 'I've got no budget' consider that the Problem Management team is usually drawn from existing members of staff - that is, we simply add to their service management responsibilities.