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Based on the definition, a problem is a cause of one or more incidents. You initiate a problem if you want to provide a long term fix to a resolution to an incident. You also initiate a problem if you want to determine the root cause of an incident.
Say you have a recurring incident and it is causing a lot of lost hours to address, you would want to initiate a problem to look at the root cause and come up with a resolution.
You do not need to wait for recurring incidents to open a problem. If you had a high profile incident, you would want to immediately initiate a problem to prevent that from happening again.
If no incident has happened, but you foresee that an incident may happen, you do not initiate a problem since based on the definition, a problem is a cause of one or more incidents. When this happens, the solution is normally known and a change request is often initiated to prevent the incident from happening.
Questions to ask before opening a problem. If you answer Yes to the following:
- Was there an incident?
- Should the incident be prevented from happening again?
- Is it critical to know the cause of the incident?
- Do we need a long term solution to prevent or minimize the occurrence of the incident?
To summarize, the process would flow like this.
- Incident occurs
- Problem is initiated to look at root cause and propose a solution
- Change is initiated to proceed with developing and implementing the solution
To understand the difference between INCIDENT and PROBLEM check my article.