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Why is it that people still confuse what role a Problem Manager should perform within an ITIL based service provision?

Problem management has it’s fingers in lots of pies when it comes to IT service provision, but most organisations I’ve seen seem to think that it’s either Enhanced incident management, or major incident management.

Problem management is neither.  Firstly Incident management is all about restoring service to the client in the shortest time possible.  BSOD – Restart.  Service restored, incident closed.  Problem management should only come into this scenario when there is a pattern to these incidents.  The service desk still resolves the incidents via the reboot workaround, while in the background the PM team is working away with whatever tech resources to identify the cause, and implement the fix to stop the incidents.  As my TL used to say, Service Desk fight the battles, we fight the wars.

Major incidents is another area where, in my view Service Desk managers mistakenly see value from Problem Management.  PM absolutley has a role in the MI process, but it should not be the first port of call for co-ordination of the incident.  To do so removes the effectiveness of the PM function, by pulling them away from managing problems, possibly including the ones which lie at the cause of the current MI.  This is counter productive, but most organisations will not have budgeted to have the capacity to have a dedicated Major Incident team / Manager, and removing staff from the front line service desk to perform the co-ordination and communication work is often not feasable.  This is why in most cases, Major incidents end up in the remit of the problem management function.  1 long running MI can in effect take 1 team member out for the entire lifecycle of the incident, meaning that all that Problem management work has now exceeded timelines / SLA.  And all the while the MI is going on and the comms have gone out to manage the flow of inbound calls regarding it, the Service desk are still dealing with incidents which probably would have had a resolution had the PM team not been diverted.

I have no idea where I was going with this post, really was a stream of conciousness thing.  I’ve probably failed to make any point successfully, and if you’ve read this far, well done.