Incident Vs Problem – ITIL Concepts

What is an Incident?

As per ITIL, “an Incident is an unplanned interruption to a service, or the failure of a component of a service that hasn’t yet impacted service”

Lets consider another example of an incident: a server crashed causing a disruption in the business. If a server is used only during office hours and the crash occurred after office hours then as per the definition in ITIL, it is not yet an incident since no service was affected. It would be an incident only when the outage extends to the hours of use.

On the other hand if the disruption is planned, for example, a scheduled maintenance, then it would not account to be an incident.

What is a Problem?

A Problem is a condition from a number of incidents that are related or have common issues. This means that it is more serious than an Incident and needs separate follow up at a deeper level to avoid future Incidents.

However problems are not incidents. An incident can raise a problem, in cases where there is a high possibility that the incident might happen again.

Problem management function is tasked with identifying the underlying causal factor, which may relate to multiple incidents. It may take several incidents to transpire before problem management has enough data to understand the root cause. Once problem management identifies the factor and develops a work-around, then the problem becomes a “known error.”

Incident vs Problem

Managing an Incident means fixing the system and to restore the service as soon as possible. While managing a Problem means finding the underlying root causes so that the Incidents do not reoccur.
An incident needs to be fixed within a stipulated timeline. Problems can be left indefinitely until an incident happens.

The objective of the Incident Management Lifecycle is to restore the service as quickly as possible to meet Service Level Agreements. The process is primarily aimed at the user level.

Problem Management deals with solving the underlying cause of one or more incidents. The emphasis Problem Management to resolve the root cause of errors and to find permanent solutions. This process deals at the enterprise level.

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