The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, better known as ITIL, contains a wealth of definitions and best practices to align your MSP business. The goal of the ITIL is to basically line up the needs of your business with the IT services you need.
Running a business without the ITIL source is like driving a vehicle on a busy highway without having road signs. Essentially, no other drivers understand your personal driving standards. This type of driving would surely lead to an accident.
ITIL puts the road signs back on the highway of your IT department, though, and it should be looked at as a tool to uplift the quality of work and have management in place in the event of a problem or incident. Incident and problem management are two relevant issues where one term cannot be used without the other; therefore, making it vital to understand the relationship between the two and how it can impact your MSP business with or without it.
Incident Management vs. Problem Management
Where incidents are characterized to occur during our day-to-day work hours, problems are perceived to occur beyond those hours. Incidents are infrequent and solutions usually involve “patching” the incident, essentially not fixing the “root cause.” Problem management, however, looks beyond the incident to actually fix the root cause
Examples of Incident vs. Problem Management
We see examples of both incident and problem management daily. The server is down and emails cannot be accessed temporarily. The service provider looks into the issue at hand and an email is sent out to notify staff and clients. Amazingly, they manage to get the server running again. The managed service provider continues to diligently work and find the source of the problem during post-operation hours.
In this example, notifying clients about the delay and fixing the server quickly characterizes incident management where problem management is defined by seeking the source of the problem and initiating a solution.
One form of management without the other is like a computer without a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen. It may turn on but cannot function for long.
Incident Management Resolution Scope
According to the BMC blog, incident management involves incident identification, logging, categorization, prioritization, initial diagnosis, and escalation when necessary, incident resolution, closure, and communication with the user involved during the incident.
Also defined is the scope of problem management including, problem detection, logging, categorization, prioritization, investigation, and diagnosis, creating a known error report, problem resolution and closure and a major problem review.
Notice how both terms fix the issue, but only one investigates the root cause.
A Case Study of Indent vs. Problem Management
J and J IT Corporation is Canada’s top MSP in the industry. Recently, J and J have been experiencing issues with their VPN connection according to their clients. Jane likes to practice incident management. She received an IT ticket from one user and logged into their computer. She changed their password and took control of their computer to log them in. For Jane, this practice ensures the user cannot make a mistake and reduces any errors. Jane fixed the error and the user logged in successfully into the VPN connection.
John’s job as Jane’s boss is to review these issues and their frequency. John practices problem management. Upon reviewing Jane’s account, he notices Jane has had many IT tickets from the same user. He logs into the system after hours into the user’s connection and finds the problem. He notifies Jane and revisits protocol.
Referring to the example above, while John likes to investigate the root cause, Jane prefers to find a quick fix. Essentially, this is the lasting difference between incident management and problem management.
One term without the other is a problem in any business. While it is important to fix a problem immediately, it is also important to follow up on that issue and ensure the root cause is derived and solved. To ensure a long-lasting efficient organization, we must acknowledge the relationship between the two and how it can potentially impact your MSP business and future progress.