Jul 15

What is Problem Management – Problem Management an Introduction

A process showing what is problem managementWhat is Problem Management?

This post will answer the question What is Problem Management in a simple and easy to understand way.

Problem Management is the process of managing all Problems to their conclusions. The aim of a problem is to identify the root cause through root cause analysis. Once the root cause has been identified it can be eradicated to avoid a recurrence.

Multiple Problem Management Processes exist that govern the process, ensuring critical success elements are achieved.

What is Problem Management Video explanation

Where Can Problem Management be beneficial?

Problem Management can be useful everywhere!!!

You may not know it but you are already a Problem Manager. When the freezer brakes or the microwave brakes you become a Problem Manager by investigating the root cause. You may review the wiring or bring in specialist resource to investigate but you are the one co-ordinating. You may eventually identify that it had overheated due to not having enough ventilation. You have now identified the root cause and put a fix in place by moving it to a more ventilated location. Problem Identified, investigated, Root Cause established & Fix implemented.

In organisations it is also useful in a number of different scenarios; The most common is in IT faults, where a Problem management process exists to identify root causes of IT faults and implement fixes to avoid them recurring. Another example may be in the complaints team, where they want to identify the causes for their complaints and eradicate them where possible. The Problem Management process is evident in most teams to some extent and as well it should be. It is in common sense terms identifying the cause of an issue and removing it.

So we have hopefully answered the question What is Problem Management, which we now know to be the process of root cause analysis. I think that’s a good start for an introduction.

Review some of the other content to get some further information on What Problem Management is Problem Management processes. or Wikipedia has some good content.

So What Is Problem Management to you?

Leave me a comment and I will respond.

Jun 30

How to improve Problem Management Customer Service

Problem Mangement Customer Service – What is it? and how can I improve it?

What is Problem Management Customer Service?

Problem Management Customer Service is the same as all other areas in a business. It is providing your customer with a service that they value and ensuring that the value outweighs the cost. Providing good customer service is not always at the forefront of Problem mangers minds as operational targets often take precedence. This is clearly wrong as you should be seeking to always provide your customer with good service levels. It is highly likely that you are not the bets Problem Management process in existence. But you have one advantage that will ensure you do not get replaced, you know your customer. Use this to your advantage to meet their wants and needs.

Know Your Customer:

In all organisations it is important to know your customer and understand their needs. Communication is the key to achieving this. The needs and wants of customer(s) is ever changing, having a constant dialogue is a critical success factor.

Problem Management Communications:

The desire for quality and timely information has always been a key topic of conversations with my customers. Being able to agree standard formatting and SLAs around key communications is beneficial. It is also important to provide above and beyond type communications when it is appropriate. The only way to know when it is appropriate is to know your customer.

Problem Management ROI (Return on Investment)

Return on investment is something I look for when buying financial products but it is also important in Problem Management. Having an understand of this will allow you and your customer to focus on value add activities. It should also help you focus on core competences and allow you to push back on requests that add little return on investment.

Service Improvement Plan:

I am always keen to have a service improvement plan for any process or team I manage. It allows you to focus on improving and enables you to engage with customers to agree what should be an area of focus. Having such a plan allows your customers to buy into a shared vision and show your desire to constantly improve.Image showing Problem Management Customer Service

Cheaper, faster, better:

Says what it does on the tin and in line with the other points identified. Streamlining activities and improving these core areas will speak to your customer in a language they can understand. Try and identify some measures to track against these three objectives and track the improvements with your customer.

Problem Management Customer Service Conclusion:

The first step to improving Problem Management Customer Service has to be speaking with your customer(s) and aligning any targets or measures to their goals. Too many Problem Management functions think of themselves as back office and have a Devine understanding of what is important to the customer. This arrogance is perplexing and need to change. Problem management is a facilitator for the business you support just like any other process and needs to work to meet business led objectives not IT operational targets that have been set internally.

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The Problem Manager

Jun 23

What to look for when Recruiting a Problem Manager

Recruiting a  Problem Manager Guide to success

Is Experience Important when Recruiting a Problem Manager?

Recruiting a Problem Manager can be a tricky process. Ideally you would want experience in both your organisation and Problem Management, however this seems unlikely unless you have multiple Problem Management functions. Having experience in the organisation is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. The biggest is existing relationships and understanding the culture.

Recruiting a Problem Manager with No Experience

The trick as with most recruitment is to seek similar transferable skills. Each organisation and role is different however this is what I look for when recruiting a Problem Manager in no particular order.

The Skills to look for when Recruiting a Problem Manger

Relationship building: Good working relationships are important in any role. In Problem Management it can be the difference between the quick co-ordination of investigations to mitigate recurrence vs a costly repeat impact, which typically raises the heat on Problem management. Being able to build relationships is a hugely important skill that transverses most roles.

Communication skills: Problem Management need to co-ordinate with all levels of an organisation from call centre staff to the CEO. Being comfortable communicating at all levels and having some experience is certainly beneficial. It is certainly a skill to adapt the way you communicate dependent on the individual and circumstances. In my experience CEO’s like concise summaries with an action plan. Where there are options a critical analysis of each and a recommendation from Problem Management tends to work well. Communication skills need to be high in both verbal and written forms.

Coordinate and Lead Meetings: Leading meetings with senior stakeholders and multiple suppliers can be a daunting task for some. It is fair to say that many of the individuals in the meeting are more senior and more technically proficient than the Problem Manager leading it. The Problem Manager needs to control the meeting to ensure all objectives are met. This is as skill that can be taught over time, however comes from a place of confidence in the individual. If the individual is naturally introverted or lacks self-confidence this should be warning sign.

Decisiveness: Problem Management have many opportunities every day to make decisions that impact the organisation they support. Being able to critically assess options and make the correct decision is paramount, however being able to do this quickly and under pressure is a strong skill to possess and should be respected.

Change Agility: It has been said many times that ‘the only constant is change’. I whole heartedly agree, which is why it is so important to find people who have the ability to constantly adapt.

Analytical skills: The interrogation and interpretation of data is important in Problem Management. Being able to identify trends for investigation or use data to validate actions is required daily. Experience in this area is a big advantage.What to look for when recruiting a Problem Manager

Motivation: I find people who are motivated do a good job (no surprises there Sherlock!). A desire to constantly learn and develop will drive individuals to strive for excellence. It could be said that motivation can be achieved through various means, which is somewhat correct, which is why it is key to understand what motivates the individual. If it is guanine or something external to the individual like money, which may be a warning flag as not always within your control.

Recruiting a Problem Manager Final Word

The above are the key things I look for when recruiting for a role in problem management. I tend to grade each applicant from 1-5 in each section. Dependent on the role within Problem Management you may want to attach a weighting to certain sections or remove them altogether to help evaluate respective candidates.

Some high level additional information can be seen here.

I hope this has been useful. Let know if you have any other criteria or key skills you look for when recruiting Problem Management.

The Problem Manager.

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