Sep 28

Problem Management KPIs

visual representation of Problem Management KPIs

Problem Management KPIs

Problem Management KPIs or Key performance indicators can in my experience drive the wrong behaviours. In fact most KPIs drive the wrong behaviours. That being said I understand there is a need to measure success and failure so here are some Problem Management KPIs I have come across.

Problem Management KPIs | Close 50% of Problems in a month

The Problem management process completes within one month and the Problem is closed. It is hard for me to find any positive with this approach. It does drive speed as a critical success factor, which can be a good thing. If the timeframe was extended to two or three months it might fit better into my process. For example I monitor fixes I implement for several weeks to ensure they are robust.

Problem Management KPIs | 50% of Root Causes identified in 48 hours

This is an Incident KPI! A Quantitative approach rather than qualitative. Problem Management is about quality, identifying the root cause to ensure no recurrences. It cannot (in my opinion) have time drivers as quality will be severely reduced.The time could be extended to a month and this would reduce the loss of quality, however this would still reduce quality as people try to hit targets.The same approach could be taken to Fix Implemented with a slightly lower % if this Problem Management KPI was to be used.

Problem Management KPIs | Reduce Incident volumes

The overall aim of Problem Management is to reduce Incidents or Impact to the customer. This is an excellent Problem Management KPI. To ensure the Problem Management KPI is fair I would suggest doing this on a monthly basis based on the same month from the previous years. This will ensure seasonal spikes are accounted for.

Problem Management KPIs | Reduce Impacted Business Hours

If the reporting of impacted user hours is accurate this is a great Problem Management KPI. Problem Management need to focus not just on reducing incidents but reducing the incidents that cause the most impact to customers.

Problem Management KPIs | Number of open Problems

It is a desired result to have a low number of Problems open. As this should mean that all root causes have been eradicated, however if this is a target it certainly does not drive the right behaviours. My main concern with this is that Problems would be rejected prior to entering the process and be closed prematurely.

Problem Management KPIs | Number of repeat Incidents after Root Cause established

This is one of the more interesting Problem Management KPIs I have seen used. It suggests that once a root cause is established there should be a ‘VERY’ low number of recurrences as the issue is understood and action can be taken quickly and decisively to avoid recurrence. In my experience this is not always the case and could certainly distort when the Root cause established action is taken.

Problem Management KPIs | Number of Incidents solved by Service Desk Increasing

Another interesting Problem Management KPI that I have seen used to no great benefit. The mind-set here is that Problem Management will be implementing workarounds and issuing these instructions to Service desk to allow for more incidents to be corrected first line. This may be true to some extent, however I would urge away for this as a KPI. I would rather the root cause was eradicated (no contact to service desk) rather than a quick win workaround, which this KPI would promote.

Problem Management KPIs | Customer satisfaction survey | Net Promoter Score

Customer satisfaction surveys and net promoter scores are now being used across most organisations as external and internal benchmarks. This can also make good IT services KPIs, however as a Problem Management KPI it may struggle depending on the organisation. Problem Management is often a poorly understood art when it comes to the business. The business sees Incident Management as the resolver of all Incidents, including eradicating root causes. If the business does have the knowledge available to complete a specific survey then this is certainly the best measure as the other measures truthfully don’t matter. Problem Management should be supporting its customers as its customers dictate, not how it is dictated in ITIL principles!

Problem Management KPIs | Re-opened Problems

This Problem Management KPI looks at how effective Problem Management is at getting to the ‘real’ root cause. If a Problem is closed with a fix implemented it should at no point recur in the future if it does then there has been a failing somewhere. This KPI should be nil.

What are the best Problem Management KPIs?

Problem Manager comments on Problem Management KPIs

KPI’s rarely drive the right behaviours. Generally KPI’s tend to focus on figures that can be manipulated as highlighted above. The best KPI is how your customer feels about the service you perform. If this figure is low then the customer needs to justify the figure to allow action to be taken.

Once you have decided which Problem Management KPI’s to use. Next is to decide how to communicate these to stakeholders, through effective Problem Management Communications.

Service now suggests these, however very basic and I hope all meant as an example rather than a suggestion.

About the author

The Problem Manager

The Problem manager has been working in Problem Management for a number of years. Most recently working for a big insurance comany in the UK. Connect on Google


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  1. Herd Lemmon

    Great topic and info. I need to spend some time studying more or figuring out more. Thanks for excellent info I was in search of this information for a new role, which I am due to take up soon and think your site will be a great asset.

    1. The Problem Manager

      Hi Herd,

      Glad you liked the post. Be sure to share it with your friends. If you have any questions let me know. Always happy to give my opinion on any topic.

      The Problem Manager

  2. Eileen Kenter

    Recently, we moved away from time-based Problem Management KPI’s (Time to Root Cause Identified and Eliminated) for many of the reasons you state here and established new KPI’s. One of which is the “rate of recurring incidents associated with a problem”. The other is the “% of incidents with a root cause within our control”. The intent is to measure our ability to learn from our mistakes in the prevention of future incidents. For example, if we identify the root cause as an “inadequate process”, have our remediation efforts resolved that cause to the extent that we are preventing similar incidents? We believe its most beneficial to spend our problem management resources on the incidents we cause ourselves,vs. those that may be outside of our control.

    I am looking for information on any benchmarks available for Problem Mangement KPI’s. I believe” % of recurring incidents linked to a problem” is farily common and I was wondering if you have other sources that identify benchmarks (I have seen anywhere from 0 to 20%)? Also, any thoughts or information you have on best practices related to KPI’s by cause would be appreciated as well. Thank you!

    1. The Problem Manager

      Thank you for the post,

      I, like you, do not like the time based KPI’s, however I do understand a need to push investigations hard (where appropriate) and time based measures do achieve this, as always needs to be a delicate balance.

      Recurrences / repeats is the key, as well as proactive (however much harder to articulate the value). Targets are very much dependent on organisations, suggest benchmarking 2013 and setting a stretch target for 2014 of 50% reduction. That is what I have set myself, which is c10% recuurences in 2014.* Some heavy analysis may be required here to identify how you are going to make such a big reduction, for instance how many recurrences are seen in the first working 24 hours? Do Incident teams need to take more ownership during this period?

      Cause codes vary dependent on organisation. My suggestion would be to decide what you want to understand. Hardware, software, Change, Design, User Error, Environmental are standard top level cause categories. If you want lower information then you may want to create sub categories. Change Procedural, Change Human Error, unauthorised Change. etc.
      *various caveats…

  3. laxmi

    Problem Management KPI s are best explained here. Please provide links for Root cause analysis as well thanks

  4. Alberto Pinu


    First of all, really nice infos. Especially the HP practical example…

    Thanks a lot.

  5. Sawsan F. Qadheeb

    Hi Mr. Problem Manager,

    this is really great resource for my for Problem Solving business application. But i need to contact you if you can lead me in how to solve my problem in Safety Training Matrix of my employees and increase the percentage of Safety KPI under the light of five Process to solve the problem.

    appreciate your kind helping and thanks,

    1. The Problem Manager

      Good day Sawsan,

      Hope you are well. I would need more information provide anything other than a general response. On the surface of it I see Safety training matrix KPIs fairly straight forward, generally then need to be 100% completed. That being said a more interesting KPI would be around the ‘Heath & safety events’ and how to reduce these based on the matrix.

      Provide more details and I am happy to share my thoughts.

      The Problem Manager

  6. Patric

    Hi Craig

    there were some very interesting points raised in you short presentation, I totally agree with the risk of pushing for RC under a specific time frame as this could force an answer rather than the right answer?

    My question is are there any baseline figures? for example: within the IT world would and 80% RC success be considered average/below etc

    The driver is over the past year we have seen a slight increase in our success rate but are not sure how were doing in the bigger picture.


    Patric Hogan
    Problem Manager

    1. The Problem Manager

      Hi Patric,

      Apologies for the late reply.

      RCA % is dependent on organisation. I do not think you should consider this too much. You also do not know the principles to which they work. Which change significantly and have a big impact on RCA measurements.

      It is all about measuring and continuously improving your own process and the Rca%.

      ‘Quality is continuous improvement’

      The Problem Manager

  7. Janet

    For a particular problem, you might decide that you are willing to live with some “accepted risk”(e.g., possibilty of customer outage) rather than to really solve the problem (possibly due to costs or some other reason).. Have you considered constructing a KPI that would measure the “accepted risk” associated with resolved problems in a time period (e.g., month)? This could be benchmarked wtih some maximium accepted risk asllowed. What do you think of this type of KPI?

    1. The Problem Manager

      Agreed. There will be times when a permanent fix is too costly or resource is required elsewhere. Tracking time to fix implemented can be a good way to measure your performance. I do measure this in my current process.

      Problem management is a form of risk management. A target around how many risks are accepted does not make much sense to me as problem management have little influence in this and the decision maker will tend to be the customer you are there to support. Or your senior leadership team who act as the customer in this scenario. I do however measure this. I track the figure monthly. No target as such but if trends develop I investigate further.

      I like measuring things as I like the insight but as soon as a target is added it drives behaviours and in my experience negatively.

      The problem manager,

  8. Gayathri

    Hi Craig,

    Saw your slides.. very good stuff. Appreciate for the effort being taken for this site. My Query is –
    I am a Quality Analyst for Problem Management team. I am sending performance report & other initiatives. Could you give me some points to improvise the process?

    1. The Problem Manager

      Happy to. Send them to me via email and drop me a comment to remind me.

      The Problem Manager

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