The Difference Between Incident Management and Problem Management

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This article mainly concentrates on making a decision on incident management and problem management. The main focus is to show which one is better, whether the incident management or problem management. This article also includes the explanation of incident management and problem management and also the comparison of both. It is concluded that problem management is better than incident management.


The aim of this article is to show which is better, whether incident management or problem management in relation with IT service. Both are important aspects of management, but one has got more preference than the other. That will be discussed in this article. Problem management and incident management are very important for “improving service to business across the entire life cycle of all workflows.” (ITSM processes and mobility drive business transformation, 2009, p.1).

“Although the goals of incident and problem management differ, the processes have strong relationship.” (Locke, 2009, p.1). First of all, without going straight into the comparison of the two and explaining which one is better than the other, this article first describes about the incident management and problem management to make the reader familiar with these topics.

Incident management

“The objective of incident management is to minimize disruption to the business by restoring service operations to agreed levels as quickly as possible and to ensure that the availability of IT services is maximized.” (Tipton, & Krause, 2008, p.337). Another thing about incident management is it will ensure the information’s integrity and confidentiality by finding out the starting place of the problem.

There are some benefits for incident management process. One of the benefits is detection of the incident recording. Another benefit is investigation and diagnosis of the problem. With this, one can find out the reason for the problem. Another benefit of incident management is resolution and recovery, which can be used for recovering from the problem. These things are very helpful in providing or ensuring quality in IT service.

The examples of incidents are unavailability of service, bug and disk quota exceed as in case of application. In case of hardware, the incidents can be printer which is not in a position to print, automatic alert and the case like system down.

Problem management

The main aim or goal of problem management is to find out and resolve the root cause of the problem. Once the root cause of the problem is known, one can minimize that problem within the IT infrastructure and one can take preventive measures or steps to eliminate that problem in future. A problem happening can often be the consequences of multiple incidents.

The process of problem management is to reduce the effect of incidents happening in the IT service sector or in any business organization. Their duty is to monitor the ongoing process in the company and if they notice the chances of occurrence of any kind of problems then their duty is to report that problem to helpdesk to take proactive measures to tackle the problem. Thus, occurrence of incident, which results in downtime of business, can be ignored.

There are some activities included in problem management process. One is trend analysis, which includes analyzing of the situation. Another activity includes providing or handling information to the organization. That is, once the problem has been identified at the time of analyzing, then their duty is to hand over the information to the helpdesk so that they can take preventive measures to avoid the happening of that problem.

Comparison between problem management and incident management related with IT Company

The objective of problem management is to avoid incidents and the aim of the incident management is to restore the function of an organization to its normal situation. So, problem management is important and better than incident management because if an incident occurs in an organization there will be great loss; so it is better to take protection against incidents than refurbishing after an incident occurred. “The main difference between Incident Management and Problem Management is that the former deals with fighting symptoms to incidents, while the latter seeks to remove the causes of incidents permanently from the IT infrastructure.” (ITIL solutions: ITIL based service management, 2008, The difference between incident management and problem management, para.1).

Today, not only IT companies but also most of the business organizations depend on computer for their day to day functions and most of the problems occur due to the failure of the computer system. The problem management will identify the problems of the computer system and take corrective measures very rapidly, which will maintain the functioning of the computer system without any problem.

For such services of the problem management, the IT Service Helpdesk has a great role which solves all the problems of the computer system. This service will hold the operational problems mainly about the matters related to IT which comprise hardware and software service, logging of problems, error detection and correction, and so on. There are many softwares for sustaining the helpdesk so that it helps to examine the problems in a computer and also eliminate the problems very quickly. The main aim of problem management is to eliminate the event occurring in an organization and the secondary aim is to keep the existing system stable by providing appropriate and regular services.

“In Incident Management, interaction with customers is usually reactive, with the main objective being to find workaround solution to restore normal services for the customer as soon as possible. In Problem Management, IT support staffs are more proactive as they dedicate resources to establishing the underlying causes of incidents. There is usually little or no interaction with the customers, as this is left to the responsibility of the service desk.” (Service support incident management, 2008, p.113).

In case of incident management even though they restore the normal operations of the organization rapidly, they will not take any safety measures to avoid the incidents happening again. While taking decision to eliminate the incident, the project management will decide whether there is a need to apply problem control and how to apply their process, that is, they will forecast the problem in order to avoid it. However, incident management will provide the service only after the event occurred but it collects information for extra analysis. The system downtime occurs due to various reasons, which may cause to the loss of data and smooth functioning of the activities, which may cause a huge loss to the organization along with customer dissatisfaction.

In such a case, the organization mainly the IT Company must follow the problem management, which helps to avoid such problems by providing suitable procedures against the system downtime. As the incident management does the service only after the problem occurred, that is, failure of system, the data will get lost. So, in order to avoid the risk in an organization it is important to follow problem management. Problem management focuses on problem control, error control and proactive problem management while incident management focuses only on incident management.

Problem management is mainly concerned with resolution of the reasons for the incidents. The incidents are activities that hinder a normal process. It finds out the reasons for various errors and also finds a solution to it. “The objective of incident management lifecycle is to restore the service as quickly as possible to meet Service Level Agreements.” (Incident management, n.d., ITIL incident management, para. 3).

Problem management works at the enterprise level whereas incident management works at the user level. Incident management consists of actions, which occur to re-establish the services at the time of any trouble. In many places incident management takes up jobs like system programmers, event managers, and system engineers etc. Incident management restores the services rapidly whereas problem management repairs the faults permanently so that the incidents do not occur again. In incident management, the business impact is the minimum.

Problem management reduces the unfavorable impacts of troubles caused by faults in the organization. It also prevents the recurrence of these errors. Problem management finds out the causes for the errors and then determines a permanent resolution for it whereas incident management tries in restoring the service very quickly and does not find a permanent resolution to the problem. Problem management thus focuses on finding the reasons that caused the problems to fix it permanently rather than the fast restoring of service.

Problem management is an important process in an IT company. Problem management process solves the problems related to software, hardware, network and other components within a company. Problems can be of various types starting from small problems like inability to print a data to serious problems like dropping of the controller. Problem management also deals with the solving of customers’ problems. Management of problems is very important for the performance of a company.

So, the measures for problem management should be very effective and reliable. If it is reliable and effective, the company can report and solve the problems on time. In problem management, first the problem should be understood and then measures should be taken to solve it. It requires a precise and complete recording of the incidents. Only then the reasons for the incident can be identified. In an organization the problems can come from the customers. The customer understands the company by analyzing how well the problem is solved. Thus, problem management also affects the reputation of the company.

The help desk has resources that help solve problems. The IT service help desk provides several services to its clients. The process implemented by these help desks for this purpose is problem management. IT service help centers are thus concerned with problem management process. ” The problem management process is intended to reduce the number and severity of incidents and problems on the business, and report it in documentation to be available for the first-line and second line of the help desk.” (Wiki: information technology infrastructure library, n.d., Problem management, para.5).

The incidents are recognized and resolved before their occurrence. In problem management, a problem is recognized to the maximum precedence. It is also made sure that there is participation of proper staffs in providing the services and also that all the reasons for the problem are discovered. Problem management helps in the production of services that are extremely reliable. Improvement in the quality of service is good for the IT business. Problem management is a process that deals with studying from the past and so can help in the prevention of errors in future. It also repairs the incidents permanently and also allows better incident fix rate at the help desk.


Problem management is better than incident management. It is very clear that one can reduce the number of incidents happening up to a very high level by implementing a proper problem management. There are lots of advantages if one adopts a proper problem management because one need not worry about the incident and how to overcome the incident. Also, the time consumption will be very less and one can concentrate more on his job without any disturbance and thus it will increase the output of the organization.

Reference List

Incident management: ITIL incident management. (n.d.). Web.

ITIL solutions: ITIL based service management: The difference between incident management and problem management. (2008). EMC: Best Practice IT Service Management. Web.

ITSM processes and mobility drive business transformation. (2009). Softwired. Web.

Locke, R. (2009). Problem management: A CA service management process map: Opportunity. CA Transforming IT Management. 1. Web.

Service support incident management: Compare incident vs. problem management. (2008). Renmin University of China. 113. Web.

Tipton, H F., & Krause, M. (2008). Information security management handbook, volume 2: Incident management (6th ed.). CRC Press. 337.

Wiki: information technology infrastructure library: Problem management. (n.d.). Wapedia. Web.

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