The Problem of CSFs

If you are unable or unwilling to appoint a Problem Manager, you are not ready for Problem Management.

That’s what I said. Or at least I think that’s what I said.

The venerable and ubiquitous Chris Dancy quoted me this January 2011 on episode 1 of the re-formed Pink Elephant Practitioner Radio podcast. He quoted me as saying “you can’t do Problem Management without a Problem Manager”. I finally listened to it last Friday.

I want to apologize to Chris. First, I apologize that I didn’t listen to his podcast earlier. I am a couple months behind on my podcast queue. Second, I apologize that I didn’t thank him personally at #PINK11 in February for the mention. I love Chris in almost every conceivable way.

I don’t fully agree with the paraphrase. I think a company can successfully implement a Problem Management process without a Problem Manager. What I really wanted to say was this: If you are unable or unwilling to appoint a Problem Manager, you probably haven’t achieved all the critical success factors you need to successfully carry out Problem Management. Unfortunately, this sentence doesn’t tweet well, so I abbreviated.

ITIL v3 Service Operations lists the critical success factors for Service Operations processes:

  1. Management Support
  2. Business Support
  3. Champions
  4. Staffing and retention
  5. Service Management training
  6. Suitable tools
  7. Validity of testing
  8. Measurement and reporting

All of these are necessary to successfully implement Problem Management. Organizations that lack any of these factors won’t appoint a Problem Manager. My advice to organizations, then, is very simple: appoint a Problem Manager. If they cannot do this, they are not ready for Problem Management.

In fairness, a few organizations do meet all the above CSF’s and choose to implement Problem Management without a centralized point of contact. It is the responsibility of managers to perform Problem Management activities inside their own group. Organizations with the right culture can get away with this. Most organizations cannot.

For that matter, most organizations cannot muster the courage or resources to appoint a Problem Manager.