Agencies that put time and work into problem management receive a massive return on investment. Even though repairing incidents when they occur is especially important, it is far better to prevent them from occurring in the first place. If you do not do that, then at a minimum, be sure you know you can minimize the effect of future incidents.

Problem management intends to decrease the likelihood and the consequence of incidents by determining real and potential incidents triggers. It also then handles workarounds and known errors. -ITSM Rhino

Stages of Problem Management

According to ITIL 4, problem management has three phases:

  • Problem identification – identifies and records problems
  • Problem control – analyzes the problem and develops workarounds
  • Error control – monitors and enhances workarounds, solves problems if cost-effective
Three Phases of Problem Management

Identify the Problem

  1. Most companies use two ways to identify the problems: There was a major incident, and the organization must understand the causes to ensure that the same thing will not happen again. The major incident management process focuses on how to resolve the incident and to restore normal operations. After that, problem management goes into action to analyze what has happened and what should happen next.
  2. There have been a bunch of similar incidents. One of them has been investigated and closed but may repeat and cause a substantial cumulative effect on clients or the service provider organization. Identification of that cluster of similar incidents typically comes from analyzing incident records trends or through excellent service desk staff that recognizes that something like this happened before. Problem management activity will be required to identify the cause of the incidents and determine how to avoid them in the future, or at the very least, minimize their impact.

Difficulty with such approaches is such that identification will be too late. After incidents have taken place, problem management activity is significant, helping minimize future incidents. But it is a lot better for everybody if the problem is detected before it causes any incidents instead of after it had a significant impact on the organization.

Identify the Problem

So, here are your six tips:

#1 When to Recognize a Problem:

Each incident causes the loss of productivity for some customers, requiring effort by the service provider organization. If you could identify problems before they result in incidents, then you can offer far better service for your users, and you can even reduce your costs! This advanced identification is a good thing for everybody, but it does require some planning and work.

#2 Recognize Problems Before They Become Incidents:

So, how are you able to identify the problems without having to wait for them to trigger incidents in the first place? What activities, processes, or practices can lead to logged, evaluated, and resolved problems before they result in lost productivity and higher costs?

The following are some handy steps to take.

#3 Look at Vendor Sites and Announcements:

Each company will use some third-party hardware, software, and services as a part of their solutions. This use of third parties may include:

  • Laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, desk phones, etc.
  • Operating-system on user devices and servers
  • Applications on user devices
  • Cloud-based services or on-premises server applications
  • Networking infrastructure, like firewalls, switches, routers, etc.

All these items are likely to include flaws. You could often discover information regarding these flaws before you affect users when you take lengths to track the announcements that the vendor is making, to their website, or through a newsletter or some other correspondence. Based on your relationship with your vendor, you might already talk with an account manager regularly. They will frequently be able to let you know of serious problems.

Each time you learn more about flaws in a third-party product that you use. This learning is a chance to solve problems before they cause incidents in the environment.

Things you could do:

  • Plan to minimize the effect on users and company when inevitable incidents take place
  • Understand exact circumstances causing incidents, then change configs, or use a product to prevent causing them
  • Keep an eye on upcoming announcements, ensuring patches are applied, or other remedies, when available
  • In extreme cases, consider substituting defective products. This substitution makes sense if the issue is grave, it will not resolve quickly, and when there is an existing substitute,
Look at Vendor Sites and Announcements for Known Vulnerabilities

#4 Close Collaboration Between Teams for Problem Management:

Many companies have software-development teams that develop and support the applications they use. You must ensure you a good working relationship between your operations personnel and your development personnel, so you can learn about issues and errors as they occur and can jointly plan to handle any incidents they could cause. It would be best if you also worked together to prioritize the resolution of any issues and errors to ensure those having the most significant impact are dealt with promptly.

#5 Monitor Social Media and User Communities and Forums:

If you have a vast number of users, and especially when several or all your users are outside your company, it is vital to monitor the user community. It is also essential to monitor social media to know more about the issues your users are witnessing that they have not recorded as the incidents. Occasionally you will find out that the users have come up with perfectly good workarounds for themselves. You can implement these to help solve the fundamental problem – with, of course, the appropriate acknowledgment of the people who have contributed to a solution where this is sensible.

You can also participate in user communities that support the third-party products you use, and this can allow you to identify issues that impact other agencies before becoming apparent in your environment.

Monitor Social Media and User Communities and Forums for Workarounds and Solutions

#6 Third-party Threat Analysis and Penetration Test Services

These services can help avoid a security incident by pointing out how you may fall victim to attack and where you may be vulnerable.

Threat assessment services are run by agencies that monitor a wide range of groups searching for what types of threats are present and the extent to which they are exploited. They can give you information that helps prevent security incidents through proactively taking defensive measures before your company comes under attack. In the Same Way, penetration test services might recognize vulnerabilities in your defenses that you will tackle before any incidents happen.

Conclusion of Problem Management Tips to Avoid Incidents

If you are using problem management to analyze incidents that have already occurred, you will forever be responding after the users have suffered. Try to consider what could happen in the future, and you can get in front of problems and provide much higher value to the users and your clients, usually with a decrease in your very own overall expenses.

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