Problem Management process

Problem Management supports the ITIL process to find and fix the root cause of issues that result in incidents. You can record problems, associate incidents, and assign them to appropriate groups. You can create knowledge from problems, request changes, escalate, and manage problems through to resolution and reporting.

Within the platform, problems are handled using the task record system. Each problem is generated as a task record through various means, and is populated with the pertinent information. These tasks are assigned to Problem Management team members to resolve and then close.

Identify and log problems

A problem can be generated in several 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 from the service catalog.
  • A user attempting to create a generic task, the sees a task interceptor, and they select the type of task to create. In this way, tasks are always assigned a handling process.
  • A problem is generated from an email when an appropriate inbound email action is configured.

Associating a problem with a configuration item using CMDB helps the Problem Management team see the affected item and its relationship to other configuration items.

A problem can be assigned to a user or group manually or with 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. Associating incidents provide the Problem Management team with access to the information gathered 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 added to the system with workflows . Workflows allow 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.

You can use the other active tasks icon next to Configuration item to look up active problem records. When you click the icon, it shows all active tasks linked to that configuration item.

The platform provides escalations rules to ensure that problems are handled promptly. Two types of escalation rules are available in the system.
  • Service level agreements: SLAs monitor the progress of the problem according to defined rules. As time passes, the SLA escalates the priority of the problem. SLAs are also used as a performance indicator for the Problem Management team.
  • Inactivity monitors : The inactivity monitors prevent incidents from being overlooked by generating an event. When a problem has not been updated within a certain amount of time, the event can create an email notification or trigger a script.

Resolve problems

If a problem needs a change request to be resolved, it is possible to request a change that goes through the change management process. After requesting a change, the problem appears on a related list on the Change Request form. Change the problem state to Pending Change after associating the problem with a change request.

A business rule (SNC-ITIL-Close-related) automates the process of closing problems in Pending Change state when the change request is closed. If the problem is closed, another business rule (SNC - ITIL - Resolve Related Incidents) automatically sets the State to Resolved for all incidents associated with that problem whose State was On Hold and On hold reason is Awaiting Problem.

If the cause of a problem has been determined but there is no permanent fix, change the problem state to Known Error to communicate this fact. IT agents can click the Known Errors module and look for the issue they are investigating to reduce time spent on a similar issue. To communicate information related to a problem, you can open the problem and describe a workaround, create a knowledge base article, or create a news item.