Overview of Problem Management in Service Manager

Overview of Problem Management in Service Manager

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The objective of Problem Management is to resolve the underlying root cause of incidents and consequently prevent incidents from recurring [ITIL]. Proactive Problem Management aims to identifying and solving Problems and Known Errors before the incidents occur.

The Problem Management Process Management Pack provides basic capabilities to document problems, link incidents and research the problems through basic search capability. Though it does not provide any workflows but the partners could extend it to include automated workflows to automate aspects of problem management process.

Some of the key terms associated with Problem Management are:

  • Problem: ITIL defines a ‘problem’ as the unknown cause of one or more incidents.
  • Incident: Any event that is not part of the standard operation of a service and causes, or may cause, an interruption to, or a reduction in, the quality of service (e.g. a service being unavailable or hardware failure). The incidents are stored in incident records.
  • Error: A fault, bug, or behavior issue in an IT service or system.
  • Root Cause: The specific reason that most directly contributes to the occurrence of an error
  • Known Error: is a Problem that is successfully diagnosed and for which a work-around has been identified
  • Known Error Database: A subsection of the knowledge base or overall configuration management s database (CMDB) that stores known errors and their associated root causes, workarounds, and fixes.
  • Personas:
    • Problem Analyst: Typically the person working to find underlying root causes of the incidents through investigation and diagnoses.
    • Problem Manager: Typically a person identifies problems from incidents in order to prevent future incidents

A typical Problem Management Process Flow


In version 1 Service Manager offers basic problem management capabilities that includes basic customizations, problem creation from multiple incidents, capturing known errors, workarounds, problem review flag and auto resolution of linked incidents.

Customizing Problem Management

  • Problem Management Settings (Administration –> Settings –> Problem Settings)
    • Problem ID Prefix
    • Number of Attachments and maximum size of attachments
    • Problem Priority mapping


  • Problem Classification (Library –> Lists –> Problem Classification)
  • Problem Source (Library –> Lists –> Problem Source)
  • Problem Status (Library –> Lists –> Problem Status)
  • Problem Resolution (Library –> Lists –> Problem Resolution)

Linking Incidents to Problem or Creating a Problem from Incidents

Given below is one of the ways of creating problem record:

  1. Select “All Incidents” View or a you could select a particular Queue
  2. In the example shown below I have used filter to narrow down the incidents
    • Note:  You can used Advanced Search for incidents that allows you to provide more complex criteria on more properties of Incident
  3. Select all the filtered incidents
  4. Then Click Create Problem in the Task Pane
  5. This should open up the Problem Form with all the Incidents selected in Step 3


Problem Form and  Problem Management Workflow

  • The Problem Form will have all the incidents automatically linked to the problem record.
  • In this case since Title and description of the problem is not captured since there were several incidents.
  • You can also add the “Affected Service or Affected CI” if problem is about a particular configuration Item
  • Problem Form allows you to capture known errors and workarounds.
  • The problem management workflow shipped out of the box, allows you to auto resolve the linked incidents.  In order to use this functionality you simply need to check the box “auto resolve” incident in the “Resolution Tab” for the Problem Form.

ProblemForm-General ProblemForm-Related ProblemForm-Resolution

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  • The Auto Resolve Option is greyed out for our system. Is this a settings issue or is it due to one of the incidents being resolved already?

  • You need to click on the Resolve Task - then the Auto Resolve check box nd Resolution text box will be enabled.

  • Can a workflow be created to mail the Problem Analyst when they have been assigned a new Problem?

  • HI there,

    Can someone please tell me, why I do not get the option to mark "Auto-resolve all incidents associated with this problem" in resolution details? I hope to get an answer. Many thanks.

    Cheers Louise

  • Hi Denise,

    The option will be available in the Resolution tab, once you click on the resolve task - you should see the Auto Resolve check box.

  • Can we add more column under the Work Items (Related Items)

  • From within our Incident form, if I click the "Link Problem" task on the right it allows me to link it to an already open Problem. Incidents linked this way do not show the Problem on the Related Items tab under Work Items. They do, however, auto-resolve when the box is checked in the Problem record.

    But, If an Incident is linked to the Problem from the Related Items tab (added to Work Items) it will not auto-resolve when the Problem is closed.

    So, 2 things here: Why doesn't clicking Link Problem add the Problem record to the Related Work Items, & Why doesn't an Incident related to the Problem in Related Work Items auto-resolve when the Problem is resolved?