Reader Question: Our problem management process does not seem to be yielding any real benefits and is dying on the vine. What are we missing?
Third Sky Expert Answer:
Dick Szymanski, Director of Education, Third Sky
Sometimes Problem Management is seen as nothing more than a post mortem review when something really big and visble occured that we'd "better not let happen again". That is important, but truthfully the real opportunity is in the daily modest losses of productivity that can be addressed by permanent fixes, but are not, and add up.
For example, if a window get broken in the winter we act quickly with a workaround (board it up) and then replace the window, and don't let the kids play baseball in the back yard any more. Yet we have dozens of windows and door jams that have gaps and bleed cold air in and warm air out. We apply workaround like wearing sweaters and turning up the heat. When heating bill arrives that's hardly first indicator of a problem ("the underlying cause of one or more incidents") just the most visible one.
One way to pay attention to the daily manifestations of issues that are bleeding us is by documenting them sooner. This helps in measuring their impact so as to determine the value of solving the root problem. Linking the similar-looking incidents often gives some indication too of the nature of the root cause, giving us a better place to start (than a haystack). Incident Matching does that well, and this may be news to you. It is a powerful technique found in ITILv2 (and many current commercial IT Incident ticketing tools). It mysteriously was absent in v3 but is now restored in the 2011 edition of ITIL.
For a more in depth discussion, please attend our webinar: Incident Matching - A Key Step to Dramatically Improving Problem Management