IT GovernanceProblem Management

8 More Tips for Getting Started with Problem Management

There are plenty of misconceptions about problem management, and Joe the IT Guy is here to bury them all – or at least dispense with another eight of them. You can take as many pages as you want from the book of ITSM best practices, but it takes an expert to deliver the whole story.

Problem Management – Unpacked

  1. Justify it.
  2. Establish a baseline.
  3. Train your team.
  4. Get the right people.
  5. Craft original metrics.
  6. Allow for workarounds.
  7. Retain knowledge articles.
  8. Focus on outcomes.

Before you begin with problem management, justify it! But don’t just justify your problem management plan. Identify its value to the business. Back up your claims with evidence. That’s the beauty of establishing a baseline. Additionally, team members will need training on various approaches to problem-solving. They may have technical experience. They may have ITSM training. They may understand the concepts of ITIL. But get them plugged into analysis if you want your problem management efforts to succeed.

It goes without saying that problem management is about people. You’ll need the right people with the right skills to execute the strategy. Regarding the fifth tip, imitation really is a form of flattery, but in the case of metrics, you’ll want to be original. KPIs are designed to improve the performance of the things your organization cares about.

Workarounds need to be accessible at a moment’s notice because not every issue will be readily solvable by problem management. A good workaround may be found through problem identification or root cause analysis. But don’t obsess over these tools:

Root cause analysis is great for identifying workarounds or the changes required to stop incidents recurring; but it shouldn’t be the focus of all your problem management activities. Instead ensure that you consistently get to the end of the “problem lifecycle” by creating a relevant knowledge article or effecting the change to prevent future instances of the associated incidents.

Lastly, “selling” problem management is unlikely to get you anywhere. Instead, focus on selling positive business outcomes. Remember, business people aren’t interested in what you do, they’re interested in what you can do.

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Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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