Incident vs. Problem

You may have seen a similar blog from the Professor a few years back that talked about the distinction between the idea of an incident vs problem.  Everything from that article is still relevant.  As process and methods for development and deployment have matured so has the usage of Incident and Problem Management.


This is one of the most often confused points in for Agile, LEAN and ITIL adaptations.
The ITIL definition is the same.
Incident: Any unplanned event that causes, or may cause, a disruption or interruption to service delivery or quality
Problem: The cause of one or more incidents, events, alerts or situation­­­­­­­
Where and how we apply Incident and Problem Management is evolving.
A decade ago, and still in some organizations, Incident and Problem Management are processes exclusive to Service Operation.   ITIL is so very relevant and today we find, with the onset of DevOps and cultural shifts, many organizations are adopting little or zero tolerance for allowing defects through the development/deployment lifecycle.  ITIL processes and principles will help.
High performing service providers have discovered that by integrating Incident and Problem Management early in the lifecycle, such as in design, development, build and test activities, they can become much more proactive to ensure true value to the customer. This aligns with and allows for the DevOps principle for shortened and amplified feedback loops throughout the value stream of Design and Delivery. If this concept is also applied to the process improvements of that value stream then the time, the amount of resources and certainly the cost will be much less for the service provider.
If Incident and Problem Management are applied early in the lifecycle and a defect is discovered, “Problem Management” would determine the root cause or the reason “Why” and propose a solution to prevent the repeat of this type of defect (incident) or cause (problem) so that it will never happen again.  This in turn prevents the “defect/incident” from occurring in the future.  This is very different then those that focus on Problem Management after the defect has done its damage and consider it only as an operational task.
If we continue to look at Incident and Problem Management as merely for Service Operation, it is likely that we will have a lot of business impact and potentially frustrated technicians who do not feel enabled for success and a likely dissatisfied customer.  By thinking out of the box and considering how you can increase the flow of work for Design and Delivery by applying Incident and Problem Management activities early in the lifecycle, an organization can truly become proactive.  
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