IT Governance

Incident and Problem Management: Where and How to Apply

Despite the establishment of ITIL as the de facto best IT framework, there is still a good deal of uncertainty about how to apply the guidance. For instance, there are key differences between incident and problem management. In a post for ITSM Professor, Professor P. Ross S. Wise acknowledges that this remains one of the most often confused points for agile, lean, and ITIL adaptations. He defines the terms:

  • Incident: any unplanned event that can cause a disruption or interruption to service delivery or quality, and needs to be resolved immediately
  • Problem: the potential cause of one or more incidents

Apply the Theories

Different from 10 years ago when incident and problem management were exclusive processes to service operations, nowadays, they become the key work of service providers in order to avoid business damage and customer dissatisfaction. You don’t want incidents to happen and then have to take care of the serious havoc, so a better way to stay away from troubles is to detect what is wrong in early stages. Many organizations have realized that they cannot tolerate even a small defect through the development and deployment lifecycle. Therefore, integrating incident and problem management early in the lifecycle—in design, development, build, and test services or products—helps them to be more proactive in ensuring that processes occur smoothly and the company is able to uphold value to customers.

Incident and problem management are parts of the ITIL framework, which aligns with the core principle of DevOps allowing for amplified feedback loops throughout the monitoring process of service or product design and delivery. If incident and problem management are applied early in the lifecycle and a defect is discovered, you will be able to determine the root cause and brainstorm solutions to prevent the occurrence of this defect, which would be an incident. The ITSM Professor talks briefly about the advantages that incident and problem management can bring about:

If we continue to look at Incident and Problem Management as merely for Service Operation, it is likely that we will have a lot of business impact and potentially frustrated technicians who do not feel enabled for success and a likely dissatisfied customer.  By thinking out of the box and considering how you can increase the flow of work for Design and Delivery by applying Incident and Problem Management activities early in the lifecycle, an organization can truly become proactive.

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