Help Desk Problem Management

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The Help Desk receives excessive calls when problems are left unfixed and have an adverse service impact on the business. The objective of Problem Management is to reduce or eliminate the impact of problems on the company. Problem Management plays an important role in the detection, finding the root cause and providing solutions to problems to avoid their recurrence. At the Help Desk Problem Management is important to eliminate the frequent occurrence of problems. This also includes publishing workarounds & knownERRORS to ensure the Help Desk Agents are handling these issues consistently.

Step 1 – Prioritizing problem management investigation candidates:

A problem investigation is initiated by identifying service issue candidates. Problem management candidates can be identified by any or all of the following methods;

  • Mandatory for Priority 1 incidents that caused a recent service outage.
  • Help Desk Agents, level 2 and level 3 teams nominating candidates.
  • Customer and business partners reporting critical service impacting issues.
  • A proactive Incident trend analysis

Wayne Schlicht, owner of BuildaHelpDesk.com recommends to “prioritizing problem management investigation candidates by the severity the issues has on the business.” He also states “that any problem that causes a significant impact to the financial, security or brand health of a company should be a top priority to eliminate from the infrastructure.”

Step 2 – Gather the data:

Once the problem management investigation candidate has been identified it is important to gather the foundational data about the problem.

  • If a service outage occurred, develop timeline of events for prior, during and after the outage. The Help Desk can assist with a large amount of this data.
  • Gather and assess ERROR, diagnostic and monitoring information.
  • Gather the number of Incidents related to the Problem
  • Review the frequency of this problem by searching the Help Desk ticket data.
  • Was a change recently implemented that could have caused this problem?

Step 3 – Form a problem review team

Identify the needed technical staff, Help Desk Agents, and customer representatives to quickly meet and review the following:

  • Review all available foundational problem data
  • Identify likely causes
  • Discuss any contributing factors
  • Eliminate likely causes until you have the most probable cause remaining.
  • Identify the root cause.

Step 4 – Propose and implement a solution

  • Document a Request for Change for any action you intend on taking to resolve the issue.
  • Submit Request for Change or implement solutions that do not require Change Management.

Step 5 – Validate the fix

  • Confirm success/failure of Approved Change.
  • Have the customer validate the problem does not occur anymore.
  • Monitor Help Desk tickets for future re-occurrences.

There are many benefits for the Help Desk and customer for implementing an effective Problem Management program. Not only will there be an improved quality of IT Services but also repeat incident occurrences should be eliminated. The Help Desk will have a Known Error database available with details of fixes and/or workarounds. Finally your organization will become proactive in identifying and eliminating infrastructure problems.