Requests, Incidents, Problems and Known Errors in a nutshell

Over the past few weeks I have noticed some talk and discussion around what incidents, problems and requests are and what are the differences between them on some of the ITIL blogs. So here is my take :

Requests

These are requests made by the customer, eg please can you install x software or please can you replace the toner on the sales printer. These types of ‘can I haves’ should be logged as a request. These are separate to incidents, as they will have different SLA’s and priorities associated to them. Installing a piece of software for one member of the sales team has a different priority than someone in the sales team can’t access the network shares.

Incidents

These are for when thing breaks or isn’t working. eg My PC won’t turn on, I can’t access any network shares or none of the print outs are coming out of the printer. These are different to requests as it normally means the customer or team cannot work or a service is degraded so they can’t work as well. The person who picks up the incident will associate a priority eg a whole office who can’t access the network might be a Priority 1 incidents and a customer who can’t print might be a priority 3 call. These priorities should be documented with an SLA associated to them so the business will know roughly how log an incident of this type will take to fix. Again, it is up to you and the business to work out these priorities and SLA’s, ITIL is just a guide. The incident can be closed when the incident is fix permanently or a work around has been put in place which restores the service back to normal.

Ahh, and this is where some will wheel out the old chestnut, is a password reset and incident or a request?

Answer

1) Why is this not automated? Plenty of tools can allow the customer re set their password themselves without needing to log a incidents/request.

2) It is up to you and how you want to define it. All you are trying to do is separate incidents (priority) over a request (sometimes, not as higher priority, as an incident), be able to produce stats on the two to show trends to help with incident and request management and reporting to the business to show how great IT are.

Problems

What happens if all that the person who picks up the incident, can do is produce a work around or doesn’t know why the fix worked or multiple customers are logging the same type of incident eg reboot the PC and the problem goes away or all that can be done to resolve the incident is produce a work around, meaning the issues still exists but there is a sticky plaster to hold everything together? Now, problems come into play. Problems are something where a virtual problem team or an individual can look into the issue deeper, hopefully finding out the root cause and a permanent fix. A problem is also something that can be taken ‘off line’. The service has been restored as the incident has been closed so the danger has past but the problem can be used to investigate over a longer period to find the real issue.

Known errors

Through your diligent problem management and investigation, the root cause is found. However, like most things in life, it is not an easy fix. The fix requires a new server, cabling or the manufacturer of the component has acknowledged there is an issue but there is no driver update so all you can do is stick with the work around. ITIL has rather cleverly thought of this scenario and known errors can be used.

e.g.

An incident was logged and a workaround took two days to come up with but the manufacturer needs to update a drives before a permanent fix can be implemented. If someone logs a similar issues, the wheel doesn’t need to be created again, a known error should of been created after the first incidents work around was found so this can be used to implement a fix/work around quickly for the second incident.

A known error and the known error database greatly reduces the fix times for subsequent and similar incidents which are awaiting permanent fixes or there are other reasons why a permanent fix can’t be implemented, so a work around is as good as it is going to get.

Hopefully, requests, incidents, problems and known errors are a little clear on what they are and what the differences are.

Thankyou for reading my post. This is my opportunity to blog about a subject I love but am still learning. These posts are my way of showing how I understand the subject, however, I would encourage you to leave comments, did you agree / disagree with the post? Did I not explain something well enough or incorrectly? Do you want me to blog about another subject within ITIL? All feedback helps me to understand more. Thankyou.

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