IT Service Management

Problem Management

Even though the service improvements that are deployed through the change management process will introduce issues, the problem management practice is constantly working to reduce the number of requests that are submitted for each service that the support organization is responsible for.  4me’s integration between the incident and problem management processes uses the request information to help problem managers to identify new problems for the services that they are responsible for.

Requests for Problem Identification view in 4me Records console

The time it takes a problem manager to perform a periodic review of requests is drastically reduced because 4me has already selected the ones that are likely to be of interest and eliminated the rest.  The algorithm that 4me uses for this takes into account factors like the services that the problem manager is responsible for, the impact of the requests, their completion reason, whether they are already related to a problem or change, etc.  To speed up the periodic request review even further, problem managers can cause a request to disappear from their list by pressing the Reviewed button, which automatically opens the next request.

Reviewed button in toolbar above a request

Once a problem has been identified, the request can be added to an existing problem, or a new problem can be opened.  Opening a new problem from a request automatically fills out the necessary information in the new problem, such as the manager, subject, service, impact and configuration items.  The request from which the problem was opened is also automatically related to it.

Because 4me also provides a unique integration with knowledge management, problem managers can use an existing knowledge article as the workaround instructions that can be applied until a permanent fix has been implemented.  Conversely, if the specialist who analyzed a problem documented a workaround in the problem record, a problem manager may decide to turn these workaround instructions into a knowledge article so that it can be shared with all users who could be affected by the problem.

As long as a permanent solution still needs to be provided, but a workaround has been specified in the problem or a knowledge article has been linked to it, 4me will dynamically offer the problem when a specialists is working on a request that may have resulted from the problem’s root cause.  The specialist can simply drag and drop the problem onto the request to link it to the problem, which causes the workaround instructions (from the problem itself or the knowledge article that is related to it) to be added to the Note field of the request.  This makes it easy for the specialist to follow these instructions or to pass them to the requester.

The important point here is that specialists will quickly start to appreciate this practical benefit.  That is why 4me sees a much higher success rate of problem management implementations than any other service management solution, even in support organizations that never formally decided to implement this process.

Once a specialist has found the root cause of a problem and proposed a permanent solution, the problem manager can make use of the integration with change management to pass the problem to the change manager of the affected service by simply updating the problem’s status.

Problem passed to change management

After a permanent fix has been implemented by change management, the manager of the problem is notified by 4me.  If the problem manager is satisfied with the permanent fix, the problem can be closed out.  At this point, the problem manager can make use of a helpful feature that automatically copies the note that is added to the problem to all the requests that are related to it.  This makes it easy to inform the requesters, who previously received a workaround for their incidents, that a permanent solution has been implemented.

And just like for the other processes that 4me supports, there are many standard reports available to allow problem managers to keep an eye on the effectiveness of the problem management process for the services that they are responsible for.

Solved Problems by Service report

Active Problems Aging Since Last Updated report