Problem Management – The Number One ITIL Priority?

There were two excellent presentations at the April Service Desk & IT Support show which concentrated on Problem Management. Ken Goff made a compelling case for making it the number one ITIL priority.  Don Page told us how to go about it.

Why make it your number one priority?

Ken brings years of experience – and a case study where a major organisation slashed the number of major incidents per month from over 50 to about 5.  This was through a relentless focus on root cause problem analysis. The mix of Incident Management to Problem management personnel switched from 9:1 to 1:9.

His case study organisation was excellent at Incident Management.  They acted fast and got systems up and running quickly.  However, it was only when attention was turned to the underlying issues that service outages began to fall – and business financial performance improved.

It required a major change in mind set with drive from the most senior management levels. Delivery was by hundreds of people within the IT support team. The role of the Problem Management specialists was to facilitate rather than to do all the work.  A key observation was that many people simply do not know HOW to analyse problems.

Practical Problem Solving

Don emphasises the importance of people and process (rather than technology or system).

Problem solving is not a natural talent. A survey showed that only 1% have any formal training. The most common mistakes are:
– quick assumptions
– failure to collect facts
– inaccurate or incomplete information
– failure to evaluate or reproduce the condition
– undue pressure for an immediate answer

The best starting points to avoid problems are:
– implement change control
– train customers
– train support personnel
– identify current business priorities
– record and document all service requests

When driving to the fix:
– define the problem first
– specify the solved state
– ensure the right people are on the team
– choose from corrective actions in a logical manner
– reconcile restraints and constraints
– prepare and implement plan
– review and adjust as necessary

Problem Management used to be highlighted as one of the fundamental ITIL processes. In terms of training and certification under version 3 it is grouped within Operational Support & Analysis.

>> Find TIL Operational Support & Analysis Courses
>> Ken Goff – KGM
>> Don Page – Marval

Blogalot – May 2010