Problem Management process

You can record problems, create knowledge from problems, request changes, assign to appropriate groups, escalate, and manage through to resolution and reporting.

Identify and log problems

A problem can be generated in a number of ways:
  • An IT staff member can generate one manually using Problem > Create New or by clicking New from the problem record list.
  • An IT staff member can generate a problem from an incident.
  • A record producer can be created to allow users to log problems in the service catalog.
  • If a user attempts to create a generic task, the task interceptor asks them to specify what type of task to create. In this way, tasks are always assigned a handling process.
  • If an appropriate inbound email action is configured, a problem can be generated from an email.

A problem can be associated with a configuration item using CMDB to help the problem management team see the affected item and its relationships to other configuration items.

A problem can be assigned to a user or group. This can be done manually, or using an assignment rule.

A problem can be associated with one or more incidents in the Incidents related list. The association is automatic if the problem is generated from an incident. This allows the problem management team to access the knowledge generated by the service desk during incident investigation.

Investigate and update problems

If the problem management team has a problem model process for dealing with certain problems, they can be codified in the system with workflows. This allows for standardization and automation of the process.
Note: The ServiceNow platform also provides the Structured Problem Analysis application as a method for identifying the true root cause of a problem.

As a problem is updated, email notifications are sent to concerned parties. If inbound email actions are specified, the problem can be updated via email.

The platform has an in-built system of escalations rules which can ensure that problems are handled speedily. Two escalators are available in the system.
  • Service level agreements: SLAs monitor the progress of the problem according to defined rules. As time passes, the SLA will escalate the priority of the problem, and leave a marker as to its progress. SLAs can also be used as a performance indicator for the problem management team.
  • Inactivity monitors: The inactivity monitors prevent incidents from being overlooked by generating an event, which can create an email notification or trigger a script, when a problem has not been updated within a certain amount of time.

Resolve problems

If a problem needs a change request to be resolved, it is possible to request a change, which is resolved using the change management process. After a change has been requested, the problem appears on a related list on the change item's form. After the problem is associated with a change item, change the problem state to Pending Change.

You can create a business rule to close the problem automatically if the change associated with it is closed. This automates the process of closing problems that are Pending Change. You can also create a business rule that automatically resolves all incidents associated with the problem if the problem is closed.

If the cause of a problem has been determined but there is no permanent fix, changing the problem state to Known Error communicates this fact to the IT staff. This helps reduce the time spent on other incidents that have the known problem by making known errors easy to find, as a list of Known Errors is automatically generated. To communicate knowledge related to a problem to users, you can open the problem and communicate a workaround, create a knowledge base article, or create a news item.