Establish a Rigorous Problem Management Process


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Use the ITIL framework to implement both reactive and proactive problem management practices.

Your Challenge
Your organization is experiencing high rates of recurring incidents that adversely impact availability and service quality.
You are constantly in “firefighting” mode, so are unable to focus on incident prevention and proactive problem management.
Recurring incidents are not being analyzed to determine the underlying cause of service issues.
Root cause analysis procedures are not established or are not practiced in a consistent and repeatable way, leading to unsuccessful root cause investigations and repeated outages and downtime.

Our Advice

Critical Insight
Focusing on rapid service restoration at the expense of gathering diagnostic data leads to an inability to determine the root cause of service issues, resulting in the same incidents occurring over and over again.
Establishing rigorous problem investigation procedures leads to a more stable environment and a higher quality of service.
Investing in diagnostic root cause analysis methods and procedures will have the greatest impact on improving problem resolution rates and reductions in recurring incident rates.
Leveraging event management alerts will enable IT support staff to be proactive, instead of reactive and will result in the prevention of service-impacting incidents.

Impact and Result
Reduction in the number of recurring incidents.
Fewer outages and less downtime.
Problem resolutions are faster and more successful.
Improved service quality and availability of critical IT systems.
Shift from reactive to proactive problem management.

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Establish a Rigorous Problem Management Process

  1. 1. Learning from past pains and working toward the goal state that is right for you, are the keys to high service quality and a successful Problem Management process. CIOs, Operation and Infrastructure Managers share the challenge of minimizing their department’s spend on repetitive, day-to-day support while still providing great service. With the ever changing and increasingly complex nature of IT shops worldwide, it is easy to get bogged down by day-to-day support and maintenance of critical business applications. Often times, the same incidents are encountered over and over again, leading to frequent service disruptions, user frustration, and hindered or halted productivity. An effective Problem Management process will help get to the root cause of reoccurring or critical incidents, preventing and resolving the problem once and for all, saving valuable time, money and resources. Info-Tech Insight: Although counter-intuitive, the Service Desk and Incident Management may have to let the system fail or endure a longer outage in order to find a long-term fix that solves the problem. Although often a difficult sell, this practice will improve the overall quality of service. Side bar 2: Use Incident Management As Your Foundation: Standardized logging and reporting of incidents and problems will streamline the process, and prevent reinventing of the wheel. You will be able to query this information to help with the resolution of future incidents and problems. Effective incident matching and critical incident identification and recording will help to recognize problems in real time. Accurate and comprehensive diagnostic data collection during incidents will help you get to the root cause more efficiently and effectively. Side bar 3: What is Problem Management? Problem Management is the process within Service Management that is responsible for determining root cause of incidents and coordinating problem resolutions that minimize service impact and prevent incident recurrence. A Problem can consist of the following: A set of recurring incidents A critical incident that impacts a large number of end users or that has a highly disruptive and negative impact on the business System reports that identify abnormal operations or functionality Note: An Incident is defined as “unplanned interruption to an IT service or reduction in the quality of an IT service.” Determine What Goal State Is Right For You Goal State 1- Fundamental Problem Management The most rudimentary goal state, featuring a brainstorming and “best guess” approach to root cause analysis. Goal State 2- Comprehensive Problem Management Involves the collection and analysis of diagnostic data to help determine a more accurate root cause. Goal State 3 - Proactive Problem Management The most sophisticated of the goal states, since it seeks to prevent incidents before they occur, by monitoring and reporting on events that could lead to a service-impacting issue. Conduct a Gap Analysis Understand the gap between your current maturity and the identified goal state for your process design. Prepare a detailed plan to close the gaps between your current state and your desired goal state. Gather Inputs From Your Service Desk And Incident Management Prepare your Problem Management process for success by enhancing Service Desk and Incident Management recording and data collection processes. Set Your Process Foundation Develop critical foundation practices for your Problem Management process through development of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). These foundation practices will set the process up for success by enabling more successful root cause analysis and more timely problem resolutions. Develop Your Root Cause Analysis Procedures Adapt your root cause analysis procedures and methods to allow for the most effective and efficient root cause identification and problem resolution.