IT Service Mgt Tip#1 for Project Manager – Incident vs Problem Mgt

Woman with Car Trouble on Her Cell Phone

As a project manager previously new to IT service management, I found the concept of Incident vs Problem Management very useful.  More after the break below…

[This is a follow-up to my previous blog on “Should Project Managers know IT Service Management?“]

When you have a car breakdown and you are on your way to an important and urgent appointment, do you ask for the car to be repaired before you continue on your journey?  Or would you use a workaround – likely, flagging a taxi instead? (assuming you can leave your car safely where it broke down – say, in a car park).

That’s one of the great things about IT service management and its ITIL® best practice framework.  It highlights the separate objectives of Incident Management and Problem Management.

Incident Management is to get you to be able to continue on your business as fast as possible (after prioritising against other incidents).  This may involve workarounds like the taxi in the above example (or the famous “Pl. try re-booting your PC” in the IT world).


Problem Management is to really find the root cause and solve the problem once and for all – e.g. tow the car away to a workshop and get it repaired, or in the case of the PC example above, to find the cause of the system incident (say, a program that is hanging the system through “leaking memory” – i.e. accumulative memory usage not released when completed – and fix the bug in the code).  Note that NOT all Incidents may need to have their root cause solved – it depends on various factors – like effectiveness of workaround and impact of not fixing.  (Another words, there is also prioritisation in Problem Management.)

MP900398807In summary, as a techie project manager, my instinct used to be to find root causes and solve problems.  Now, I know that that may not be the best way to help the user in his immediate needs, and it’s always good to think about both Incident Management and Problem Management.

About Goh Boon Nam

BoonNam is a digital professional with over 30 years of industry experience. He is currently the Chief of Digital Agility Practice (i.e. the practice of Business Agility enabled by Digital) at the Institute of Systems Science in the National University of Singapore. As the chief of this practice, he oversees the applied research and training of Digital Agility. While the Institute is part of the university, it is practice-oriented and its staff (including BoonNam) are all practitioners from the industry and its target audience are working professionals in the industry. Prior to the Institute of Systems Science, BoonNam had taken on a wide range of roles from developer, business analyst, project manager, enterprise architect, process improvement manager (for IT and business) and director for application systems. Through these roles, he has taken on various digital transformation projects. *Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not represent the views and opinions of the National University of Singapore or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.
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2 Responses to IT Service Mgt Tip#1 for Project Manager – Incident vs Problem Mgt

  1. Pingback: IT Service Mgt Tip#2 for Project Manager – Meeting the customer requirements via SLA, OLA and UC | An IT Practitioner


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