A previous post discussed “The problems with your problem management” and some of the obstacles standing between your organization and true, proactive problem management. This post delves deeper into some of those obstacles and offers recommendations to help you address them.
Proactive Problem Management: What’s Stopping You?
Aside from confusion over incident versus problem management, a primary obstacle to proactive problem management in many organizations is an overwhelming need for reactive incident resolution.
When your team is consumed by incidents that need resolution now, there’s too little bandwidth to get to the level of proactive management that can address incidents before they become problems.
Even if your organization has IT incident management more or less under control, there are other hurdles in your way. To achieve proactive problem management, you need information about your environment and what’s happening in it that is accurate, complete, and up to date.
However, your incumbent processes and technologies may be unable to deliver the information your team needs when and how they need it. And every cycle your team spends trying to identify, localize, and react to incidents and problems means fewer available resources to address them before they escalate.
ITIL4 is Maintained Throughout the IT Ecosystem
Another potential impediment to success with proactive problem management is a lack of enforcement. The ITIL guidelines and other resources provide solid guidance and specific recommendations. However, most organizations lack the people and processes needed to ensure those guidelines are followed consistently.
(See, “Our take on making modifications to the ITIL® v4”)
Without such enforcement, there is little chance an organization can achieve or sustain proactive solutions, especially as its IT estate evolves.
There are other potential hindrances to your proactive efforts as well. Examples include a lack of leadership awareness and support and too many separate, disparate islands of problems and/or incident management across your organization. Inertia – “we’ve always done it this way” – can also slow your progress.
Proactive Problem Management: What Your IT Needs to Succeed
The numerous challenges to success with proactive management of problems can be daunting to any organization. Fortunately, the elements you need to succeed are a subset of the resources you and your team are already employing to manage your organization’s IT estate, that is – people, processes, and technology.
You and your team must determine if you have enough people in the right places to move forward effectively toward proactive solutions to managing problems. You must also assess relevant incumbent processes to identify those that can help and those that must be changed or replaced. You must check whether technologies are in place and up to the task and devise solutions for those lagging.
None of this is necessarily simple or easy. But all if it is possible and eminently worth doing. The closer your organization achieves and sustains proactive problem management, the more valuable its IT investments will be.
Ultimately, you and your team will spend less time-fighting fires and more time on more interesting and valuable tasks – personally and professionally.
Problem management activities
Problem management activities can be broken down into four categories:
- Problem control is the process of preventing and correcting errors promptly.
- Error control is the process of preventing errors from occurring in the first place by using checks and balances, and finding solutions to recurring problems.
- Problem prevention uses trend identification to predict potential issues and make changes to prevent them from occurring.
- Management information production for the service centre involves gathering data on how well an organization’s problem management activities are working so that they can be improved if necessary. This also includes major problem review meetings where issues are discussed and resolved.
Advantages/benefits that problem management can provide to businesses
The following benefits can be achieved through the implementation of problem management.
- It optimizes the service lifecycle and makes it more efficient. The number of failures decreases and the system becomes more stable. This allows you to focus on other important tasks and reduces the time spent on solving incidents.
- Problem management helps you decrease the volume of recurring incidents, which means that users need to contact the support service less often. This will give your Service Desk more time for other important tasks, such as analyzing user feedback or developing new features.
- One of the key benefits of problem management is its ability to implement permanent solutions. This means that once a solution has been implemented, it will be able to be used again in the future and does not need to be recreated every time an issue arises.
- It also improves communication between IT teams by creating a knowledge base that can be shared with other teams. This helps to ensure that everyone has access to all relevant information and understands exactly what happened during each incident.
Proactive problem management FAQs
Question #1: At what stage of ITIL process implementation should you look at Implementing Proactive Problem Management?
Answer #1: As you are implementing your ITIL process suite, it is important to remember that proactive problem management will help you identify weaknesses in the infrastructure that may cause future incidents. In addition, the outputs of Availability Management, Configuration Management, and Capacity Management will help you pinpoint weaknesses in the infrastructure that may cause future incidents. Proactive Problem Management can therefore not be undertaken until these three processes are well established.
Question #2: How to measure and manage performance?
Answer #2: The first step is to identify a metric that will be used to measure performance. Once the metric has been identified, it’s time to determine how often it needs to be measured. Metrics must be aligned with customer requirements and goals and linked back to these requirements through effective communication channels. Hence, there is a clear understanding across all levels of management about what needs to be achieved by whom, when, and so on. The entire process will require time, money, and human resources, as well as initial and continued support from management.
Question #3: What’s the best way to take preventative actions after risk analysis?
Answer #3:The best way to take preventative actions after risk analysis is by practising the upgrade in advance. This can be done by making the upgrade a priority for system administrators, creating and testing procedures, and having the system administrators run the practice. After all this has been done, check support database problems and review upgrades. Check whether or not there are any conflicts between older versions of software or hardware and newer versions of software/hardware on your machine that might cause problems during the implementation of new software/hardware upgrades manually first before actually doing so with your entire environment at once.
Best practices for better problem management
When you define the problem correctly, you’ll be able to identify the root cause quickly and accurately. It’s important to take a reasonable amount of time to define precisely what the problem has been. For this, you can start by asking yourself some questions:
- First, when did the problem begin to manifest? Was there an identifiable trigger event? Or was it a gradual decline in performance?
- Determining the value of the problem is crucial. The value of a problem is based on the urgency and impact of the problem. Urgency is the time-sensitive nature of the problem, while the impact is how much it will cost you to fix it. Together, they create a scoring system that allows you to determine which problems should be addressed first.
- It’s not enough to just identify a problem. You need to know what caused it, so you can stop it from happening again in the future. That’s where metrics come in. Metrics are a powerful tool in your problem management arsenal. They allow you to obtain detailed statistics on the quality of service and the efficiency of your company’s processes and use them to identify the root of a problem.
- If you want your team to be more effective and efficient, you need to invest in the right tools. The best solutions for problem management are those that allow your team to be proactive in their work. The more they can respond quickly and effectively, the better your business will perform.