Can an Incident Become a Problem?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 0 Comments

People often confuse a recurring incident or a major incident (high priority incident) with a problem. In fact, an incident never ‘becomes’ a problem. Why?

In order to answer this question let us understand the definition of ‘Problem’. A problem is the underlying root cause of one or more incidents and remains a separate entity always.
For example if a server crashes, restoring the server ASAP is incident management and diagnosing the root cause for the server crash is problem management. A server might crash because of an underlying root cause like a virus attack, low memory etc. So the specific cause like Virus or low memory is the problem. Incident ‘Server crash’ didn’t convert into a virus or low memory ‘Problem’. In fact the ‘problem’ virus attack lead to an incident ‘server crash’. So fixing the root cause by quarantining the virus or increasing the memory of the server will prevent the recurring ‘server crash’ incidents in the future.

Let me elucidate by giving a non- IT example.
Assume that a person is suffering from fever. Fever is the ‘incident’. Giving him the ‘paracetamol’ (medicine used to reduce the body temperature) to relieve from fever is incident management. Performing diagnosis, finding the root cause, and providing a solution is problem management. If the person is diagnosed with Malaria then “Malaria” is the ‘problem’ which is the underlying root cause behind his fever.
So now, a fever (incident) can never become the problem ‘Malaria’. It is the problem ’Malaria’ which caused the fever (incident)
So if we permanently fix the problem ‘Malaria’ the recurring incidents (fever) will not happen.
I hope that you all agree with me that a incident never ‘becomes’ a problem. It is the underlying problem which create incidents.

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