Keep up-to-date with ITIL news. Low volume to-the-point bulletins...
Service Support Problem Management
The objective of ITIL Problem Management is to minimise the adverse effect of Incidents and Problems caused by errors within the IT Infrastructure, and to prevent recurrence of Incidents, Problems and Errors.
The main reasons for adopting ITIL Problem Management are:
  • To improve the productivity of support staff by ensuring Problems are dealt with according to impact on the business and priority
  • To resolve Problems effectively and in a timely manner
  • To identify and resolve Problems and known errors in a proactive manner such that occurrences of Incidents is reduced
  • To provide management information about Problems and their resolution
The main elements of ITIL Problem Management are:
  • Problem Control, which identifies, records, classifies and investigates and diagnoses Problems v Error Control, which identifies, records and assesses errors and then monitors and records error resolution and closure
  • Major Incident Management, which assists in the management of Incidents that have or are likely to have a major impact on the business
  • Proactive prevention of Problems, which includes trend analysis and targeting of support effort effectively
  • Management Information, which analyses Problem information and provides timely and relevant reports on this
  • Major Incident reviews, which analyses how Major Incidents were handled and instigates improvement actions, where appropriate, through ITIL Change Management
Benefits of ITIL Problem Management
The main benefits of itil Problem Management are: v Improved quality of IT Services (fewer Incidents and Problems equate to less unplanned downtime)
  • Permanent solutions to Problems and Incidents are found and implemented so repeat occurrences should be all but eliminated
  • Better control of IT service support as groups are directed to work on Incidents and Problems based on (potential) impact and priority
  • Build up of Known Errors and System Defects information with details of fixes and/or workarounds (part of the knowledge base) leads to improved Service Desk first time fix rate
  • Learning from past experience provides historical data to identify trends and the means of preventing Incidents and reducing the impact of these so users can be more productive
The main costs of ITIL Problem Management are:
  • Initial implementation of the function including staff, training, software and hardware v Ongoing staff costs v Accommodation costs Note: that not adopting ITIL Problem Management has costs and other implications including:
  • Lost time for users when services not available v Lost revenue as services not available when needed v Impact on reputation of the business in the marketplace as its IT services are seen not to be of the quality required v IT Service Provider seen as not providing the service quality expected by the business
Potential Problems
The potential Problems include:
  • Lack of management commitment as, perhaps, Problem Management's value proposition is not understood or believed (yes you will improve service quality if you have both Incident and Problem Management working effectively!)
  • ITIL Problem Management relies on effective Incident control and if this is not in place then it will not be able to achieve its goals
  • The Service Desk may perceive Problem Management as undermining its role rather than adding value (needs to be carefully managed, perhaps, getting staff in Problem and Incident management to 'swap roles' for a period so that they learn how both functions work)
  • Insufficient time and resource provided to build and maintain the knowledge base which is a key element in helping to reduce and resolve Incidents and Problems quickly (again this needs to be in the implementation plan and may need to be fought for!)
  • The impact of Incidents and Problems cannot be assessed accurately. This relates to ITIL Service Level Management (SLM) and Customer Relationship Management. It may involve (further) work to identify key business systems, understanding the impact of unavailability in business terms (loss of money, loss of user access)
As mentioned above one of the key issues that introducing ITIL Problem Management into any organisation faces, is gaining the Senior Management buy-in. Typically there are no quick wins or tangible benefits with ITIL Problem Management in the first instance. Senior Management needs to provide the necessary resources (People, Process and Technology) and allow the process to develop and be established before they will see the returns. Unfortunately there are no real guidelines on the timescales, it is down to trust.


2014-04-29 by "aygrubay"

This is a good article and very helpful,

But i would like to ask for your advise on this.

It says here: The objective of ITIL Problem Management is to minimise the adverse effect of Incidents and Problems, yes i totally understand, but why is it that in this practice exam that i have taken, the question is:

Which of the following is NOT an objective of problem management?

The answer is:

Restoring normal service operation as quickly as possible and minimizing adverse impact on the business.

This is somewhat contradicting to the post and every article i see about ITIL problem management.

I hope you could help me.
Reply on 2014-05-06
Thank-you for contacting ITILnews with your question.

There is a difference between Incident and Problem management.

When an incident is reported to a Service Desk the primary objective of the Desk is to address the incident as quickly as possible and restore service within the Service Level Targets that have been previously agreed. The restoration of the service may for example may involve a user logging off and on or possibly powering off and on their computer. As part of the Incident Management process the Service Desk or Resolver Group will be required to update the incident with all the activities undertaken to resolve the incident and where possible provide 'Resolution Code and Description'.

Problem Management who are not under the same Service Level Targets as the Service Desk and Resolver Groups will undertake analysis of the Resolver Codes, Descriptions, Error Codes, Symptoms etc in an attempt to identify the 'root cause' of the incident(s). Problem Management may access logs and share data with third party suppliers of software or hardware. A solution for example may involve applying a certain 'patch level' to the IT estate, which ideally should be tested prior to being implemented and obviously follow the Change Management process.

So Incident management is reactive and its primary objective is to get the service operationally as quickly and effectively as possible. Problem Management is both proactive and reactive, but its objective is to identify 'known errors' and where possible the 'root cause' of the incident(s), following Change management to apply the Change and address the root cause once and for all.

Please submit any comments you have about this article.

Your feedback will help add value to the content for other visitors and help us develop the content for the benefit of all.

You will need to provide and verify your e-mail address but your personal information will not be published or passed on to others. To identify each post we take the part of your email address before the @ sign and use that as the identifier, so if you are your post will be marked "by john.smith".

NB: We respond personally to every post, if it calls for it.

If you prefer to respond without posting your comment please use our contact form.

Click the REVIEW button below to preview your comments.

Other articles in the same section;
Tags; ITIL Problem Management, ITIL Service Support, Problem Management
This article has been viewed 38896 times.
NB: This page is © Copyright and / or the relevant publishing author. You may copy this article only in it's entirety, including any author bio and / or credits, and you must link back to

Keeping up-to-date with ITIL...

Keep up-to-date with ITIL news. Low volume to-the-point bulletins...