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How To Address Your Problem Management Backlog

Problem Management is one of the most important, yet misunderstood and poorly implemented aspects of the Service Management disciplines. This blogs offers advice on how to leverage Problem Management to reduce the volume and impact of incidents.
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The challenge that most people who take on a Problem Management role face, is that it is probably one of the most important, yet misunderstood and poorly implemented, of the Service Management disciplines.  

People don’t really understand that the objective is not just about identifying root cause and fixing problems, it’s far more important than that.  Problem Management is all about reducing the volume and impact of incidents.   

Unfortunately, as a result of this lack of understanding, Problem Management tends to be at the bottom of the queue when the work of the operations teams is prioritised. If there isn’t an incident, there isn’t the pressure to work on something that isn’t causing a business impact, and therefore it’s not seen as a priority.  

The ITSM framework creates a variety of different routes that demand for resources to come from; Incident Management, Problem Management, Request Fulfilment, Continuous Improvement and daily support tasks.  

Resources are far more likely to be assigned to keeping the lights on or delivering new functionality, rather than working on Problems.  

How many people sit in a regular Problem Management meeting, to review the progress of the actions recorded on a Problem register, only to find that the majority have no update.  

Often this is a reflection that the wrong people are attending the meeting, and the opinion that is held for Problem Management.  However, in a lot of cases, this reflect that the people assigned the actions have other demands that are drawing on their time.  

Taking a leaf out of the way that Agile teams work, prioritising a backlog of items and allocating them, as a timebound sprint, could provide a solution.  

Demand for resources, including problems, can be created as work packages and added to an operational team backlog. These packages can then be presented to a regular backlog review, where they are prioritised by a stakeholder, or product owner. 

This would ensure that an operations team are focused on an agreed package of work, rather than reacting to disparate demands. Any new requests for resources will go on the backlog to be prioritised, or agreed to be added to the current work package. 

While not necessarily addressing resource challenges experienced by Problem Managers, it would allow them to obtain far more visibility around where and why resources have been assigned. 

If you would like to find out how iCore can help you implement or improve your Problem Management function, then get in touch on 0207 868 2405 or email info@icore-ltd.com.