ITIL Problem Management Process — Transform Your Operations from Reactive to Proactive

In the ITIL context, Event, Incident and Problem Management processes all are part of the Service Operation function. They work together and contribute to managing the delivery of services.

In a previous blog, we described the distinction between Event, Incident and Problem Management practices. In this post, we’ll dig deeper into the differences between the ITIL Problem Management process and the ITIL Incident Management process.

What Are ITIL Incident and Problem Management?

An incident refers to an unplanned interruption or degradation of service. ITIL Incident Management best practices are all about restoring the service and maintaining effective communication during the process. Speed is, of course, of the essence – the longer things take to fix, the more dissatisfied the end user. Given the sense of urgency to restore service, it’s not uncommon for short-term measures, such as workarounds, to be used in an itil incident management process flow.
A problem, on the other hand, is the cause behind one or more incidents. ITIL Problem Management is focused on understanding these causes and preventing them from recurring.

Incident vs. Problem Management Processes

There is a fundamentally different mindset between the procedures underlying Incident and Problem Management practices and process flow:

  • ITIL Incident Management is outwardly focused. The goal here is to satisfy the users of a disrupted service as soon as possible.
  • ITIL Problem Management, on the other hand, is more introspective and inwardly focused on the infrastructure that supports these services. ITIL Problem Management demands a wider perspective in terms of time and effort typically involved.

ITIL Incident Management teams are firefighters, racing to put out fires. In the process, they may or may not figure out the cause of the incident. In fact, they may come up with a temporary solution – or even better, a permanent solution.

ITIL Problem Management teams engage in proactive problem management and are analogous to the fire prevention team. A huge opportunity is wasted if the information captured by the ITIL Incident Management team is not fed to the Problem Management team.

ITIL Problem Management teams can study and collate the causes of incidents and their resolution. They can use the information to build a knowledge base that is reusable in the future. Typically, this takes the form of a known error database (KEDB).

Deeper Insights with a Known Error Database

ITIL Incident Management teams can benefit from the availability of a KEDB by using it as a reference for quicker incident response or to deliver consistent support.

When coupled with automations, KEDBs make possible the ability to affect remediation actions without human intervention, further speeding resolution – and in some cases, preventing a service from getting degraded in the first place.

Why Stop with Just Incident Data?

ITIL Problem Management teams are uniquely positioned to cast a wider net when it comes to gathering interesting data. This could include monitoring and performance data in addition to root cause and resolution information. By looking for trends and conducting analysis across a wider data set, it is possible to uncover deeper insights into the state of the infrastructure.

Of course, this can be a difficult, cumbersome and labor-intensive process. First, there is the massive amount of data that needs to be normalized and organized. Then, sophisticated analytical engines and techniques are needed to derive actionable insights.

Enter AIOps

Fortunately, artificial intelligence has come of age and is in a position to provide real-world solutions to data overload issues. Improvements in computing power and storage, the scalability of cloud-based infrastructure, and the increasing sophistication of algorithms have all been key factors in making this possible.

There’s even a term for such solutions in the IT operations management arena: artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps).

The implications for Problem Management teams are immense. Using AIOps techniques, they can mine historical and real-time information to look for trends that lead up to when incidents occur. They can look across time and data to identify previously obfuscated root cause information. They provide the ability to oversee large and dynamic infrastructures.

The holy grail for Problem Management is to understand the causes of incidents and to prevent them from happening in the first place. By leveraging AIOps, it is now possible for Problem Management teams to be truly proactive.

They can actually get to the point of predicting outages before they occur. And they can inform operations teams – or trigger automations – to take action to avoid the incident altogether. Make sure your IT ops provider offers advanced AIOps solutions that enable these automations and analytics.

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