Skip to main content

The Value of Problem Models

If a problem is the unknown cause of one or more incidents then how can I design a repeatable model for something that is unknown?
The purpose of Problem Management is to manage the problems throughout their lifecycle. Problem Management seeks to not only to minimize the adverse effect of incidents by providing work arounds, but also seeks to eliminate outages, and prevent them from recurring again.
In Incident Management ITIL defines an Incident Model as a predefined set of procedures based on type of incident.  So then what is a “Problem Model”? 
Problem Models
Not all problems are the same.  There are many different types of problems and each type will require unique roles and responsibilities, varied skill sets and different timelines and policies based on the complexity of the problem.  When considering how to design problem models consider the workflow required once the “problem” or is identified.
Approach to Defining Problem Models
One approach is to classify the types of problems that occur within your organization.  Because “Problem Management” requires both reactive and proactive activities most service providers could start with those two categories when considering models for “Problem Management”.
Another approach is to consider “How are problems identified”?  Depending on where in the lifecycle of Strategy, Design, or Transition or Operation the problem is identified, a different “Problem Model” may be required.  Here are a few examples:
Lifecycle Problems
Example 1: Design Problem Identified: Many incidents occurred because of the dynamic changes that occurred throughout the app/dev environment the production environment were not coordinated with transition and service support teams early on in the lifecycle.
Example 2:  A glitch was found in software during test of major change.  Decision is made to move forward with the change based on business impact that the delay will cause.  How will this known error get communicated and documented in problem management?  Who, what, where ,when and how will problem management reduce the impact of incidents and prevent this from recurring?  A problem model along with procedures and policies is required.

The people, skillsets, methods, and techniques utilized to resolve these types of problems will require a different set of procedures or model than operational type problems such as:
Problem Models involving Infrastructure outages or vendors:
Example 3: Problem was identified as bad switch.  The switch was swapped out but problem management would need a procedure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for how to prevent this in the future.  While investigating problem management team has uncovered that a vendor has confirmed malfunctioning ports on switches that were released into production.
Also, an operational break/fix or problem models for defects will differ from an all hands on deck Major Problem Model.
Therefore, you will have one problem management process but will need many problem management models to process the varied types of problems that run through that process.   Begin with a few generic models that will evolve over time. Unite and coordinate these with other models as required for integration with incident and change management processes.
Efficient problem models will result in higher availability of services, increased productivity (less chaos), reduced expenditure and reduction in the cost of firefighting and resolving incidents. All of that is nominal in comparison to the customer and business confidence that is gained by the service provider.



Popular posts from this blog

What is the difference between Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner?

I was recently asked to clarify the roles of the Process Owner, Process Manager and Process Practitioner and wanted to share this with you.

Roles and Responsibilities:
Process Owner – this individual is “Accountable” for the process. They are the goto person and represent this process across the entire organization. They will ensure that the process is clearly defined, designed and documented. They will ensure that the process has a set of Policies for governance.Example: The process owner for Incident management will ensure that all of the activities to Identify, Record, Categorize, Investigate, … all the way to closing the incident are defined and documented with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, handoffs, and deliverables. An example of a policy in could be… “All Incidents must be logged”. Policies are rules that govern the process. Process Owner ensures that all Process activities, (what to do), Procedures (details on how to perform the activity) and the policies (r…

How Does ITIL Help in the Management of the SDLC?

I was recently asked how ITIL helps in the management of the SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle).  Simply put... SDLC is a Lifecycle approach to produce the software or the "product".  ITIL is a Lifecycle approach that focuses on the "service".
I’ll start by reviewing both SDLC and ITIL Lifecycles and then summarize:
SDLC  -  The intent of an SDLC process is to help produce a product that is cost-efficient, effective and of high quality. Once an application is created, the SDLC maps the proper deployment of the software into the live environment. The SDLC methodology usually contains the following stages: Analysis (requirements and design), construction, testing, release and maintenance.  The focus here is on the Software.  Most organizations will use an Agile or Waterfall approach to implement the software through the Software Development Lifecycle.
ITIL  -  is a best practice for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs …

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…