Problem Management Pitfalls – Areas where I have gone wrong

As part of the Service Management strategy, it was identified that you would implement Problem Management. Like any improvement initiative you are bound to have some roadblocks and shortcomings. These are some of the ones I have come across and what was needed to get over the hurdle or around the mountain.


Pitfall #1 – Ensure you have commitment from all levels in your organization

Using the example in my previous blog post The Foundation of a Service Management Roadmap remember the Senior leadership wanted us to get this process going without having any additional resources or funding. “More with less,” as you may recall. This mandate, while it has come from a place where you might just assume everyone is on board, may simply be the direction you are given and not signoff that everyone “gets” what we are doing. This is where you may need to leverage your service management colleagues to identify what level of understanding your organization has (or doesn’t have) so you can target your approach to getting everyone onside. You will also need to identify who everyone is. Keep in mind your IT support teams are the ones who you are looking to have an understanding of what we are doing and why.

Pitfall #2 – Problems are just big Incidents…Right?

Many people these days now understand how incidents work, so the misconception is that it will be easy for them to assume that Problems, while they sound similar to incidents, are the same thing. This issue can especially pop up if your Incident and Problem Managers are the same person. Comments like,  “This is confusing…what’s the difference” is a response I have often heard. Depending on the target audience, it may not really matter what the difference is. What needs to be communicated is what the function of Problem Management is – to avoid incidents through root cause analysis. And this needs to be communicated through the right audience. Your end users do not necessarily need to know or understand what happens. All they want is a great customer experience.

Pitfall #3 – Linking your Incidents to your Problems

While this sounds as though it should be simple, this may be more complex than you might think. This will depend largely on how you record and report on your Incidents. This may be where the single role of Incident / Problem manager may have the advantage. Since the same person is getting the output from the reporting, they will have a vested interest in ensuring appropriate reporting is complete. This may also impact the way in which incidents are recorded to provide good reporting statistics. If the Problem and Incident roles are separate the teams will have to ensure that they work together to record information that is beneficial to the common goal of incident reduction. In the beginning you might identify that there are some gaps in how you are able to report as a result of other processes, don’t get discouraged. This may lead to discussions on how we can address the maturity of other processes in the Service Management improvement initiative.

Pitfall #4 – We are still seeing incidents, doesn’t Problem management prevent this from happening?

Provided that you have gotten everything else right, you may still be in a position where your Problem Management is in ‘reactive’ mode. While ‘proactive’ Problem management may be just around the corner you may need to improve some other processes to help in your quest to iron out this last item.

These are just of few of the common issues that I have ran into while improving the Problem Management process in my experience there are bound to be many more. Feel free to let me know which areas you have seen some issues.