Incidents when a Defect is Involved

Question: We currently track defects in a separate system than our ticket management system. With that said, my question is does anyone have suggestions and/or best practices on how to handle incidents when a defect is involved? Should the incident be closed since the defect is being worked on in another defect tracking system if it is noted in the incident ticket?
I am considering creating an incident statuses of 'closed-unresolved' so the incident can still be reported on in our ticket management system but know it is being worked on/tracked in the defect system.
With defects, it is possible that we may never work on them because they are very low priority and the impact is low to the user. However, in some cases a defect is being worked on. Should we create a problem ticket instead?

Thanks, René W.

Answer: RenĂ©. In ITIL, the activity you are describing is handled by the Problem Management process. ITIL does not use the term “defect” but it does use the term “known error” to describe a problem that has a documented root cause and a workaround. A “problem” is the cause of one or more incidents. It is understood that you may not know the cause of a known error or have a workaround initially.

ITIL suggests creating known error records “as soon as it becomes useful to do so.” What’s important to keep in mind is that a known error record, like any other record, can have any number of statuses. For example, a known error record could have a status of “detected” when it is first logged. A status of “informational” could be used to reflect that the known error is being investigated but neither a workaround nor a root cause has been identified. A status of “diagnosed” could mean you know the cause but do not yet have a workaround. A status of “resolved” could mean you have both a documented root cause and a workaround. A status of “closed” could mean that you’ve implemented a permanent resolution via the Change Management process. It’s up to your organization to define statuses as needed to reflect the activities within your Problem Management process.

An important benefit of logging and tracking known errors is a reduction in the time it takes to handle incidents. Whether the decision is made during testing to release something with known errors into the production environment, or the errors are detected after the system/application is live, the known errors should be logged and made available to Incident Management so that any recurrences can be more quickly diagnosed and fixed. Without such an interface, it is likely that you’ll waste effort re-diagnosing and re-resolving incidents.

As you are suggesting, you can also define statuses within Incident Management that reflect the relationship between problems/known errors and incidents. For example, some organization use a status of “resolved” when a workaround is delivered to “stop the clock” relative to service level reporting and to reflect the fact that service has been restored to the customer. These organizations often have a field or a link that they use to point to the actual known error record to minimize the rekeying of details. Some then use a status of “closed” to indicate the customer is satisfied. A status of “closed-unresolved” could be used; however, you would still want to ensure that your customer is satisfied with the information or workaround that you have provided. You would also still want to be able to report on those incidents as the number and impact of those incidents should, over time, influence how you are prioritizing the handling of your problems/known errors.

I hope this helps Rene. Please let us know if you have additional questions.

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