Vinod Agrasala thinks there is a problem -and that problem is problem management! This blog post on Agrasala’s ITSM/ITIL blog takes a hard look at how to define problem management in the ITSM world. To put it as succinctly as possible, problem management is used when there is an unknown underlying cause for one or more incidents. Problem management identifies the unknowns and resolves them.
And if the definition were just that, Agrasala probably wouldn’t have a problem with it. However, he notices a “very basic problem” – the process above can be used, generally for any cause analysis or for the identification of any unknown element, not just problems. Using a few examples, Agrasala shows how the problem management process can also be used to identify the root cause of increased productivity, improvement in the performance of a network, etc.
ITIL ® recognizes that there is a close tie between the two, as the blog post goes on to state:
ITIL ® Service Operation Publication states that there is a close relationship between Proactive Problem management and Continual service Improvement (CSI). So if Proactive problem management is a major input to continual improvement, then the above scenarios are ideal examples for those. However the scenarios above (specifically scenario 1) are not exactly a Proactive cause analysis. It is reacting to something which has happened in Operation and we are reacting to that!
Yes, there are key differences in these scenarios: You are not starting with a ‘Problem’ and the cause identified is not an Error!! Since it is not an error, you will not be “˜resolving’ it, but will be more of acting on it for proactive improvements.
Essentially, Agrasala is warning us against thinking of the problem management process as a process to only be used for problems. A better definition would indicate that the process could be used to identify any unknown variable.