What is Problem Management?

Why is it important? Best practices for problem management



Ralph Bockisch
Ralph Bockisch

Problem Management (PM), process for identifying and managing the causes of incidents - disruptions

Problem management is an important component of IT service management, the aim of which is to identify, analyse and permanently eliminate problems and potential faults in order to ensure the reliability and recovery of IT services.

Problem management is a structured procedure that not only aims to solve problems quickly, but also to prevent them. This includes, on the one hand, the identification of regularly occurring problems and, on the other hand, the analysis of their causes. On this basis, targeted measures can then be developed and implemented to permanently eliminate the disruptions. In addition, problem management is also responsible for tracking problems and their impact on service quality as well as for monitoring service levels and targets.

In this article we give an overview of Problem Management, its process steps, the ITIL framework and the importance of Problem Management in IT Service Management.

Definition of Problem Management

Problem Management is the process of identifying, analysing and resolving problems that may cause services not to function as expected. Both known faults and potential faults are recorded and rectified in order to ensure service quality.

Difference between Incident and Problem Management

Although Incident and Problem Management are closely related, there is an important difference between the two processes. While Incident Management is concerned with the quick resolution of incidents, Problem Management focuses on root cause analysis and permanent resolution of problems to ensure that they do not recur.

Process steps in Problem Management

The process steps in Problem Management start with the identification and recording of incidents and include an initial analysis, categorisation and forwarding of the problems as well as the resolution of known errors or the development of workarounds and the analysis and problem solving by the Problem Management team.

ITIL and Problem Management

Problem Management in the ITIL Framework

The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework is a proven approach to IT Service Management (ITSM) and provides a comprehensive method for improving IT services. Problem Management is an important part of the ITIL framework and refers to the process of analysing, resolving and preventing problems that can affect the availability and performance of IT services.

ITIL 4 and Problem Management

ITIL 4 is the latest version of the ITIL framework and places more emphasis on business integration and IT improvement. Problem Management is an important part of ITIL 4 and is treated as part of the Service Operation module, which focuses on the day-to-day operational processes of IT services.

Problem Management as part of IT Service Management (ITSM)

Problem Management is an important part of IT Service Management (ITSM) and works closely with other processes such as Incident Management, Change Management and Configuration Management to ensure that IT services are reliable and stable.

Why is problem management important?

Problem management is important to ensure the quality of service of IT services and to proactively eliminate or prevent problems. By using problem management processes, the impact of incidents on services can be minimised and the efficiency and capacity of services can be improved. Overall, problem management helps to make IT services more reliable and stable, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

Ensuring service quality

Problem management helps to ensure the service quality of IT services by identifying problems at an early stage and resolving them permanently. This helps to minimise disruptions and failures of IT services and to ensure high availability and performance of services.

Proactive elimination of problems

Problem Management enables proactive resolution of problems before they lead to IT service disruptions or failures. By analysing incident records, recurring problems and potential faults can be identified and permanently eliminated.

Minimising impact on services

Problem Management helps minimise the impact of incidents on services by proactively resolving issues and developing workarounds or temporary solutions. This can minimise the impact on services while the permanent solution to the problem is still being developed.

Problem Management Process Steps

  • Identification and recording of problems 1

    The first step in the problem management process is the identification and recording of problems, which can be reported either by the problem management team itself or by incident management. All relevant information is collected and documented in the Known Error Database (KEDB).

  • Initial analysis and categorisation 2

    In this step, an initial analysis of the issues is conducted to determine their impact on IT services. Using this information, the issues are categorised and prioritised to ensure that the issue management team addresses the greatest impact on services first.

  • Forwarding and escalation 3

    If the problem management team cannot solve the problem itself, the problem is passed on to another team that is better able to solve the problem. If the problem is severe or requires a quick solution, the problem can be escalated to ensure a faster response.

Solving problems

Resolving known errors

When the Problem Management Team identifies a known error, it can be documented in the Known Error Database (KEDB) so that Incident Management can respond more quickly. The Problem Management Team can also develop and implement a permanent solution to the problem to ensure that it does not recur.

Developing workarounds

Workarounds are temporary solutions that can be developed to minimise the impact of problems on services. The problem management team can develop workarounds while the permanent solution to the problem is being developed.

Analysis and problem solving

The problem management team conducts a comprehensive analysis of the problem to identify root causes and develop a permanent solution. This may also identify further process improvements to avoid similar problems in the future.

Introduction of Problem Management

Underlying principles

The introduction of problem management requires an understanding of the underlying principles and best practices. This includes a clear definition of problem management, the creation of processes and responsibilities, and staff training.

Tasks and responsibilities

Problem management roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined to ensure that all people involved understand what is expected of them. These include problem identification and recording, initial analysis and categorisation, problem referral and escalation, and resolution of known errors or development of workarounds and analysis and problem resolution by the problem management team.

Benefits and risks of implementation


  1. Improving IT service quality: problem management helps to improve the quality of IT services by eliminating common problems and identifying the root cause of issues.
  2. Increasing customer satisfaction: By resolving problems quickly and preventing future disruptions, IT service providers can achieve higher customer satisfaction.
  3. Cost savings: If problems can be solved more quickly, the downtime of IT systems is reduced, which in turn leads to lower costs.
  4. Risk management: Problem management helps minimise risks associated with IT services by getting to the root causes of problems and taking appropriate action to prevent future disruptions.
  5. Improving IT processes: Problem management helps improve ITIL processes by identifying interactions between processes and identifying areas for improvement.


  1. Time-consuming: Problem management can be time-consuming as it requires thorough investigation of problems to identify root causes and take appropriate action.
  2. Complexity: Problem management can be very complex as it can often involve multiple departments and processes.
  3. Lack of staff: The introduction of problem management usually requires additional staff or training for existing staff, which can involve additional costs.
  4. Resistance to change: The introduction of problem management requires changes to existing IT processes and systems, which can be met with resistance from staff.
  5. Lack of prioritisation: If it is not clearly defined which problems should be prioritised, there may be delays in fixing important problems.

Best practices for problem management

As we captured above, problem management plays a critical role in maintaining a stable IT environment and maximising customer satisfaction. By implementing best practices, organisations can ensure that problems are quickly identified, analysed and resolved. In this section, we present more problem management best practices to help you keep your IT services running at a high level.

Process improvements in problem management

Continuous improvement of the process is essential to make problem management more effective. Regular reviews of the process make it possible to identify weaknesses and take appropriate measures to optimise them. Incorporating feedback from the team and affected stakeholders can provide valuable insights and contribute to the continuous development of problem management. Remember that a flexible process allows you to respond appropriately to changing requirements and new challenges.

Identify and analyse known defects

Identifying and analysing known errors is an important step in solving problems efficiently. In doing so, it is advisable to use a systematic approach. By implementing a consistent method for classifying and prioritising problems, you can ensure that known errors are dealt with appropriately. A root cause analysis helps to understand the underlying problems and develop solutions to fix them permanently. Use proven methods such as the Ishikawa Method or the 5-Why Principle to get to the root causes.

Fixing problems and known errors

Fixing problems requires a systematic approach. It is important to set clear priorities and establish efficient communication channels. Close cooperation between the different teams and departments is crucial to solve problems quickly and effectively. When fixing known errors, consider both short-term workarounds and long-term solutions. Document all steps and actions taken to retain knowledge within the organisation and handle future incidents efficiently.

Introduce a Known Error Database

The introduction of a Known Error Database (KEDB) is a best practice to optimise problem management. A KEDB serves as a central knowledge base for all known errors and their solutions. It allows the team to draw on existing knowledge and solve problems faster. Ensure that the KEDB is regularly updated and maintained to ensure that it is always relevant and reliable. Train your staff to use the KEDB effectively to get the most out of it.

Implement workarounds and permanent solutions

When fixing problems and known errors, it is important to implement both workarounds and permanent solutions. A workaround helps to temporarily minimise the impact of a problem while a long-term solution is developed. Document all implemented workarounds and communicate them to all affected parties. Work in parallel to develop permanent solutions to address the underlying causes of the problems and prevent future incidents. Thorough root cause analysis and close collaboration with other teams can help find sustainable solutions.

Final thoughts

Problem management is a dynamic process that requires continuous adjustments and improvements. By following best practices such as continuous process improvement, identifying and analysing known errors, implementing a known error database and implementing workarounds and permanent solutions, you can keep your IT services at a high level. Be proactive and take the time to regularly review and adjust your problem management. This way you can minimise downtime, increase efficiency and ensure a smooth IT environment.

Frequently asked questions

What is Problem Management?

Problem Management is a part of IT Service Management that deals with the prevention and resolution of problems within IT services. It includes the entire process of identifying, analysing, prioritising, documenting and resolving problems, as well as implementing measures to prevent future problems.

How does Problem Management fit into IT Service Management?

Problem management is an integral part of IT service management. It helps ensure the availability, continuity and quality of IT services by proactively identifying problems and taking proactive measures to prevent incidents, as well as providing quick and effective solutions to problems that have already occurred.

How is Problem Management defined in ITIL 4?

ITIL 4 defines Problem Management as a process that aims to improve the capacity of the IT team to resolve incidents. It takes a proactive approach to identifying problems before they become incidents and finding solutions that reduce the risk of future incidents. Problem Management also analyses Known Errors to document and prevent problems and workarounds.

How is Problem Management different from Incident Management?

Incident Management and Problem Management have different objectives. While Incident Management aims to provide quick and effective incident solutions, Problem Management focuses on identifying the underlying causes of incidents and finding permanent solutions to them. Problem management is therefore a proactive approach to incident prevention.

What are the benefits of Problem Management for an organisation?

Problem Management provides many benefits to an organisation, including improving the quality and availability of IT services, reducing downtime, reducing repeat problems and minimising user dissatisfaction.

What is the role of proactive problem management?

Proactive problem management plays an important role in preventing serious incidents and strengthening IT service continuity. It identifies potential problems before they occur and takes proactive measures to prevent incidents.

What methods and techniques can be used in problem management?

There are a number of methods and techniques that can be used in problem management, including the use of root cause analysis, known error databases, workarounds, trend analysis and capacity management.

How can Problem Management be introduced into an organisation?

Introducing problem management into an organisation requires a strategic and systematic approach. It is important to define clear goals and responsibilities, train and sensitise staff and stakeholders, and implement the right tools and processes.

What is the difference between ITIL v3 and ITIL 4 in the context of problem management?

ITIL 4 has many improvements and updates over ITIL v3, including a stronger focus on Agile, DevOps and Lean practices. One important difference related to Problem Management is that ITIL 4 has an expanded focus on proactive Problem Management, while ITIL v3 focuses more on reactive Problem Management.

Who is responsible for Problem Management?

Management for Problem Management is defined within the IT organisation and usually includes a named role that is responsible for all Problem Management activities.

What is the role of Known Errors in Problem Management?

Known Errors are an important part of Problem Management. They provide documentation of all problems that have already been identified and analysed, and contain information on the underlying causes and possible workarounds or solutions. Known Errors help to avoid future problems or to be able to solve them more quickly if they should occur again.

How does Problem Management contribute to the continuous improvement of IT services?

Problem Management analyses incident records to identify changes and improvements within the IT service area. This enables proactive problem identification, resolution and implementation of actions to improve IT services and processes in the future.

EcholoN and Problem Management

EcholoN supports problem management by providing organisations with a central platform to manage all aspects of the process. The software enables the efficient recording of problems and their classification according to urgency and impact. This allows problems to be prioritised and dealt with accordingly.

Root cause analysis is facilitated by EcholoN as it provides tools and functions to understand the core of the problem. Organisations can systematically identify the root causes of problems and develop appropriate solution paths to find long-term solutions.

EcholoN also supports the implementation of workarounds and permanent solutions. Companies can document workarounds and share them with other teams to enable rapid problem solving. At the same time, they can work to develop permanent solutions to address the underlying causes of problems and prevent future incidents.

Another strength of EcholoN is the integration of a Known Error Database (KEDB). Organisations can create a central knowledge base of known errors and their solutions. This allows teams to draw on proven knowledge and solve problems more efficiently.

EcholoN also offers extensive reporting and analytics capabilities that allow organisations to gain valuable insights. With meaningful reports and dashboards, trends can be spotted, bottlenecks identified and informed decisions made to drive continuous improvements in problem management.

As a holistic service management software, EcholoN is designed not only to support problem management, but also to seamlessly integrate other IT service management processes. The platform enables collaboration between different teams and creates an efficient service management environment.