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Troy DuMoulin, VP, Research & Development

Troy is a leading ITIL® IT Governance and Lean IT authority with a solid and rich background in Executive IT Management consulting. Troy holds the ITIL Expert certifications and has extensive experience in leading IT Service Management (ITSM) programs with a regional and global scope.

He is a frequent speaker at IT Management events and is a contributing author to multiple ITSM and Lean IT books, papers and official ITIL publications including ITIL’s Planning To Implement IT Service Management and Continual Service Improvement.


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"This blog is dedicated to making sense out of the shifting landscape of IT Management. Just when we thought we had a good handle on managing technology, the job we thought we knew is being threatened by strange acronym’s like ITIL, CMMI, COBIT, ect.. Suddenly the rules have changed and we are not sure why. The goal of this blog is to offer an element of sanity and logic to what can appear to be chaos."

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"In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch Hiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactic as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older more pedestrian work in two important respects.

First, it is slightly cheaper: and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
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Monday, December 04, 2006

ITIL Problem Management vs Root Cause Analysis

Though is may seem subtle there is a rudimentary difference between what is popularly called a Root Cause Analysis process and what ITIL refers to as Problem Management.

The primary difference comes down to the focus or objective of the relative processes. Both the RCA and Problem Management process stress the trending and analysis of data related to incidents and failed changes in order to determine the true source or root cause of a major service disruption. For both processes this also usually involves holding meetings with subject matter experts to gain their insights on the likely cause while attempting to forestall the inevitable blame-storming and finger pointing that usually results in these gatherings.

Additionally both processes will then publish a comprehensive report based on the conclusions that can be drawn from these activities which is then distributed to the relative Sr. Management team. It is at this point that the RCA process finishes and the ITIL Problem Management process continues on.

Consider that the goal of the RCA process is to understand what went wrong and to accurately report the impact of the incident and or failed change so that the results are understood and that a similar incident can be avoided in the future. Also for most organizations the RCA process is focused only on the really big and embarrassing issues as opposed to the small to medium failures that happen routinely without identification or analysis.

ITIL Problem Management on the other hand is interested in trending problems and known errors of varying sizes and is not satisfied with simply identifying the root cause of a single significant incident but seeks to specifically target the repeating systemic issues that may not appear significant on their own but when considered together as a repeating pattern represent a substantial impact on service availability and reliability.

Perhaps the most striking difference between an RCA process and ITIL Problem Management is that the RCA process is primarily focused on identification and reporting. Whereas ITIL Problem Management has as its ultimate goal the elimination of these systemic issues once and for all for the purpose of improving overall availability and reliability of Service Management. For this reason the objective of ITIL Problem Management is more closely aligned with Availability Management then it is with Incident Management.

In Summary:

  • The RCA process is focused on Problem Identification and Impact Reporting
  • ITIL Problem Management is focused on Problem Identification and Elimination

Troy’s thoughts what are yours?

”It was his subconscious which told him this - that infuriating part of a person’s brain which never responds to interrogation, merely gives little meaningful nudges and then sits humming quietly to itself, saying nothing.” ~Douglas Adams

(4) Comments
Posted by Troy DuMoulin on 12/04 at 11:32 AM
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