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.
- 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