What are the problems of management

Problem management

Aim:Problem management manages all problems within their lifecycle. This ITIL process ensures that the occurrence of (repetitive) incidents is prevented and the effects of incidents that cannot be prevented are kept to a minimum. 'Proactive Problem Management' analyzes incident records and uses data that have been collected in other IT service management processes to determine trends or significant problems.

German name: Problem management

part of: Service Operation

Process owner: Problem manager


ITIL 4 problem management

The problem management process described here (Fig. 1) follows the specifications of ITIL V3, where problem management is defined as a process in service operation (the fourth phase in the ITIL service lifecycle).

ITIL V4 no longer specifies specific processes but introduces 34 practices. This gives organizations more freedom in defining tailor-made processes.

Problem management is thus listed in ITIL 4 as a service management practice, and the recommendations include the most important activities, inputs, outputs and roles. On the basis of these guidelines, organizations should define a detailed process for managing problems that corresponds to their individual requirements.

Since the processes defined in ITIL V3 have not lost their validity with the introduction of ITIL V4, organizations can still use the problem management process from ITIL V3 as a template.

In our YaSM Service Management Wiki we describe a leaner model with 19 service management processes that fits well with ITIL 4, where simple and practicable solutions are preferred. The YaSM process model contains a problem management process that is a good starting point for organizations that want to implement ITIL 4.


Process description

Problem management aims to minimize the effects of incidents (service disruptions) by preventing incidents as much as possible. For incidents that have already arrived, Problem Management tries to prevent them from recurring.

In ITIL, a "problem" is defined as the "underlying cause of one or more incidents".

Problem Management works closely with Incident Management, but a clear distinction must be made between the two processes:

  • Incident management is about restoring services as quickly as possible, often with the help of temporary solutions.
  • In contrast, Problem Management analyzes the fundamental causes and sources of error so that the resulting incidents do not occur in the first place.

All problems should be recorded in problem records so that their status can be tracked and their complete history can be documented. The categorization and prioritization of the problem should be based on the procedure in incident management so that incidents and problems can be linked in a simple way.

In the problem management process, proactive and reactive methods are used:

  1. The reactive problem management is triggered when facts and problems are identified that require further analysis and the implementation of a longer-term solution. For example, problem management can pick up an incident (or a series of related incidents) whose underlying cause could not be resolved in incident management. This is to prevent similar incidents from occurring again in the future.
  2. At the proactive problem management it is an ongoing activity with which sources of error are to be identified so that potentially resulting incidents do not occur in the first place. For example, problem management analyzes certain data such as incident records and log files in order to identify patterns and trends that can indicate possible problems and sources of error.

When a problem has been analyzed and diagnosed, it becomes a known error. If possible, Problem Management provides a workaround - a temporary solution with which incidents can be resolved as long as a permanent solution is still being developed in Problem Management.

When a final solution is implemented, the Problem Record should be formally closed. This ensures that the problem record contains a complete description of the process leading up to its solution, and that all relevant records and records are up-to-date.

Problem Management has a number of interfaces with other ITIL processes:

The overview diagram 'ITIL Problem Management' (Fig. 1) illustrates the most important information flows and interfaces of the process.


ITIL 4 lists "Problem Management" as a service management practice (see above).



ITIL problem management includes the following sub-processes:


Proactive problem identification

  • Process objective: To improve the general availability of services by proactively identifying problems. Proactive problem management aims to identify problems and / or provide workarounds before (further) incidents occur.

Problem categorization and prioritization

  • Process Objective: To record and prioritize a problem with reasonable care to enable a quick and effective resolution.

Problem diagnosis and resolution

  • Process objective: Identify the underlying cause of a problem and initiate the most appropriate and economical solution to the problem. If possible, a preliminary workaround will be provided.

Problem and error monitoring

  • Process objective: Continuously monitor open problems and errors with regard to their processing status so that corrective measures can be initiated if necessary.

Problem conclusion and evaluation

  • Process objective: To ensure that - after a successful problem solution - the problem record contains the complete description of the solution history and that the known error records associated with it have been updated.

Major Problem Review

  • Process goal: Look back at the solution to a larger problem in order to avoid recurrence and to gain experience for the future. It must also be checked whether the problems that have been marked as "Closed" have actually been resolved.

Problem management reporting

  • Process goal: To ensure that the other service management processes as well as IT management (in the form of the problem management report) are informed about open problems, their processing status and existing workarounds.



The following ITIL terms and acronyms (Information objects) are used in Problem Management to represent the process outputs and inputs:


Known error

  • A known error is a problem with a documented underlying cause and workaround. Known errors are managed by the problem management process throughout their lifecycle. The details of a known error are given to you Known Error Record stored in the Known Error Database (KEDB). As a rule, known errors are identified by problem management, but they can also be suggested by other service management disciplines such as incident management or external suppliers.

Known Error Database (KEDB)

  • The Known Error Database (KEDB) is created by Problem Management and used by both Incident and Problem Management to manage all known error records.


  • A problem is the cause of one or more incidents.

Problem Management Report

  • A report that provides the other service management processes with information about open issues or issues in progress.

Problem record

  • The problem record contains all the details of a problem and thus documents the life cycle of the problem from detection to closure (see also: ITIL problem record checklist).

Suggestion for a new problem

  • A notification of a suspected problem, which is passed on to Problem Management for further investigation and possibly leads to the formal registration of a problem.

Suggestion for a new known error

Proposal for a new workaround


  • Workarounds are temporary solutions to reduce or eliminate the effects of known errors (and thus problems) for which a definitive solution is not yet available. Workarounds are therefore often used to minimize the effects of incidents or problems for which the causes cannot be eliminated in the short term.


KPIs | Checklists


Roles | Responsibilities

Problem Manager - Process Owner

  • The problem manager is responsible for managing all problems throughout their lifecycle.
  • Its primary goals are to prevent incidents from occurring and to minimize the negative effects of incidents that cannot be prevented. To this end, he maintains the information on known errors and workarounds.




[1] A: Accountable According to the RACI model: Responsible for ensuring that problem management as an overall process is carried out correctly and completely.

[2] R: Responsible According to the RACI model: Responsible for the execution of certain tasks in Problem Management.

[3] To the role descriptions ...



From: Stefan Kempter, IT process maps.


ITIL 4 Problem Management ›Process Description› Sub-Processes ›Definitions