Whereas Incident Management is concerned with getting the Customer up and running again as quickly as possible, Problem Management deals with getting to the root cause of the issues causing disruption.
A problem is defined as: “The unknown cause of one or more Incidents”
The purpose of Problem Management is to manage the lifecycle of all problems from first identification through further investigation, documentation and eventual removal; to minimize the adverse impact of incidents and problems on the business that are caused by underlying errors within the IT infrastructure; to proactively prevent recurrence of incidents related to these errors, and to get to the root cause of incidents, document and communicate known errors and initiate actions to improve or correct the situation.
Problem Management includes the activities required to diagnose the root cause of incidents and to determine the resolution to those problems. It is also responsible for ensuring that the resolution is implemented through the appropriate control procedures; especially Change Management and Release and Deployment Management.
Problem Management will also maintain information about problems and the appropriate workarounds and resolutions, so that the organization is able to reduce the number and impact of incidents over time. In this respect, Problem Management has a strong interface with Knowledge Management, and tools such as the KEDB will be used for both.
Although incident and Problem Management are separate processes, they are closely related and will typically use the same tools, and may use similar categorization, impact and priority coding systems. This will ensure effective communication when dealing with related incidents and problems.
The Problem Management process has both reactive and proactive aspects:
Reactive and proactive Problem Management activities are generally conducted within the scope of Service Operation. A close relationship exists between proactive Problem Management activities and CSI lifecycle activities that directly support identifying and implementing service improvements. Proactive Problem Management supports those activities through trending analysis and the targeting of preventive action. Identified problems from these activities will become input to the CSI register used to record and manage improvement opportunities.
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