Problem management and incident management need to be treated differently. Here’s why
Although ITIL4® is very complete in its approach to service management and value, there is always room for improvement. There’s a fundamental concept that helps us understand why ITIL4’s changes are needed: we must convince IT people, who are primarily focused on operations, to work strategically with business partners to produce services a business can use to gain a competitive edge.
What, therefore, could be changed about ITIL4 that might help operational teams make that leap? Let’s find out:
1. Financial Management and the Configuration Management Database (CMDB)
In ITIL4 as in previous versions, financial management is concerned with determining and managing three types of costs:
- Overhead costs
These are the costs associated with overarching management and organizational operations, such as HR.
- Indirect costs
These costs include infrastructure needed to deliver all services, such as networking and data center costs.
- Direct costs
Direct costs are the costs attributable to a particular service.
While ITIL4 addresses several practice areas that contribute to financial management, they stop at IT Asset Management (ITAM). While there’s no question that asset management is critical to financial management, so is configuration management.
Configuration Management Database and Business Service Mapping, in particular, support the understanding of a service’s direct costs. The question here is that while asset management can track costs of Configuration Items (CI) needed to build a particular service, how is the cost of that service managed during a given time period?
The CMDB and its maintenance are critical to understanding the costs of delivering services, particularly when viewed from two essential configuration management capabilities:
- IT Discovery and integration to cloud-management services enable an organization to understand what new resources have been added.
- Service mapping and dependency mapping, when added to IT discovery, enable an organization to know which new resources are being used to deliver a particular service.
These are two important aspects of financial management that should be considered with ITIL4 guidance.
2. Reduce Emphasis on Problem Management As Related to Incident Management
The ITIL® definition of a problem has always been the cause of an incident. Even though the practice of problem management requires both proactive and reactive problem management, this definition causes the emphasis to be on reactive problem management rather than proactive problem management.
Replacing one word in this phrase changes the game significantly. What if problem management was redefined as the cause of an error? Now, proactive problem management becomes possible, as an error can occur that is not an indication of an interruption to service or abnormal operation.
Errors and warnings are often signs of needed attention but do not result in a change to the operational status of a service. Researching and repairing issues before a service is impacted in any manner makes problem management much more proactive.
It could be argued that an error is an incident, yet most organizations don’t treat it like one. They tend to equate incidents with actual service interruptions, using problem management in a much more reactive manner.
3. Eliminate Silos
While ITIL has always advocated for the elimination of operational silos, it has converted operational or departmental silos into process-based silos. Instead of being challenged by issues when trying to convince the network team to talk to the applications team, we now are challenged by silos that impact the overarching adoption of ITIL.
Many organizations consider building a great CMDB to be the responsibility of the service asset and configuration management team, or whatever team has been assigned this task to complete.
When help is needed to build the non-discoverable CMDB data, team members try to avoid it, denying it is their responsibility. With all of the emphasis on value chains, guiding principles, and the like, where is the emphasis to separate these silos?
Addressing the Gaps
There are answers, of course, but they are the responsibility of the service-management- adoption chain to build them into the organizational change management initiative. The answer is in the details of ITIL4 – the value-stream.
Special care is required to build value-stream maps for the various designated areas, ensuring the maps account for the weaknesses in the guidance as provided.
Here are three value- stream concepts to address these three issues:
- Include business service mapping and service costing in the value-stream maps for financial management.
- Build value-stream maps for discovering and addressing problems before they become an incident.
- Incorporate technical and application management teams in the value streams involved in building the CMDB.
The answer with ITIL4 is no different than it’s ever been: ITIL4 provides guidance, it is not a prescriptive framework. The concept of “adopt and adapt” still applies to ITIL4. However, it must be adapted to the goals and objectives as well as the culture of an organization.
To find out more, watch the recent Virima webinar, “The Problems with Your IT Problem Management – And How to Solve Them.” Ensure your IT people, processes, and technologies are adequately prepared to deliver proactive problem management.
Virima is here to help. Virima features can automatically discover and map your critical IT resources and the interconnections that link them to one another, your applications and services, and your users.
You can also learn more about Virima’s solutions online, or by contacting Virima. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!
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