In any organization leveraging IT infrastructure, occasional system incidents are inevitable. These incidents could range from minor glitches to significant outages, often causing disruptions in normal operations. Hence, to keep the system up and running smoothly, implementing an effective Problem Management process is crucial. Let’s dive into what it entails and why it is pivotal for businesses, big or small.

What is Problem Management?

ITIL, a set of detailed practices for IT service management (ITSM), defines ‘problem’ as the underlying cause of one or more incidents. The primary role of problem management is to find the root cause of these incidents and prevent them from recurring, ensuring the longevity and robustness of IT services. Essentially, it’s a lifecycle management of all problems aiming to not only address issues reactively but also proactively prevent future ones.

The Lifesaver of IT Infrastructure

Imagine a boat with a persistent leak. While it is essential to keep bailing the water out (incident management), finding and fixing the hole (problem management) is vital for a smoother journey. This process is a valuable asset because it fosters:

  1. Incident Prevention: Identifying and addressing the underlying causes before they flare-up into incidents.
  2. Elimination of Recurring Incidents: By finding and fixing the root cause, it helps avoid repeated disturbances.
  3. Mitigation of Unpreventable Incidents: Even when incidents can’t be altogether avoided, minimizing their impact is crucial.

Problem Management in Action

The strategy combines both reactive and proactive measures. Reactive problem management springs into action when incidents occur, targeting the root cause to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.

On the other hand, proactive problem management is like a vigilant sentinel, continually working to identify and address potential issues before they become significant problems. It employs a variety of tactics including, but not limited to:

  • Scheduled reviews of incident records, operational logs, and event logs to identify underlying problems.
  • Major incident reviews to prevent recurrence.
  • Brainstorming sessions and utilizing check sheets for data collection on service or operational quality issues.

Seamless Integration with Other Processes

Problem management integrates tightly with other processes such as change management and release and deployment management to ensure resolutions are implemented appropriately. Moreover, it maintains a close relation with knowledge management, utilizing tools like the Known Error Database (KEDB) to aid in reducing the number and impact of incidents over time.

A Catalyst for Business Value

Undoubtedly, the Problem Management process brings remarkable value to the business. It enhances the availability and quality of IT services, promoting:

  • High Service Availability: By reducing the number and duration of incidents, ensuring uninterrupted services.
  • Increased IT Staff Productivity: Equipping staff with recorded errors and workarounds, allowing quick resolution of incidents.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: By avoiding expenditures on ineffective workarounds or fixes, and reducing the labor cost involved in addressing repeated incidents.

Stepping Stone to Continuous Improvement

Proactive problem management shares a symbiotic relationship with Continual Service Improvement (CSI) activities, contributing to identifying and implementing service improvements and steering the organization towards a path of continual growth and betterment.


In the dynamic world of IT, problem management stands as a pillar of stability, guiding the ship safely through turbulent waters by not just dealing with the symptoms, but finding and fixing the cause.

By understanding and implementing a structured problem management process, businesses can forge a path to higher productivity, better service availability, and ultimately, happier and more satisfied users. Let’s make the IT world a place where problems are just stepping stones to solutions.

References: ITIL Service Operation, 2011 edition, ISBN 9780113313075