When organizations decide to focus on problem management, often there is some difficulty defining what constitutes a problem. The ITIL® materials define a problem as
“a cause of one or more incidents where the root cause is not known at the time the problem record is created.”
The definition sounds simple enough. The challenge is often with the idea that one single incident can be a problem.
When determining what constitutes a problem in your organization, consider the following questions/scenarios:
· When the incident(s) is resolved, what is the risk of another related incident occurring in the future?
· Is vendor support available for the technology? Is the organization using an older version or device which is being phased out?
· Will a future incident relating to a service, infrastructure, or an application result in an unacceptable situation for the business?
· The initial incident was resolved with a temporary fix. Does the organization need a long term workaround?
All of the questions noted above relate to common ‘problems’. Each of the questions noted could relate to a single incident or multiple incidents. Some of the questions could be the result of proactive problem management so there may not be any related incidents at all.
Developing a list of common scenarios and evaluating how they should be handled will help to define what constitutes a ‘problem’ for the organization. Based on this information, a formal definition can easily be developed.
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