Incident Vs Problem

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A short note for difference between Incident and Problem

For anyone with ITIL knowledge, terms PROBLEM and INCIDENT are often used interchangeably. There is one more word ISSUE when used create more confusion.  However the terms PROBLEM and INCIDENT are different and should be used based on analyse how important the situation is and how to fix it.

Any unplanned disruption in service is known as INCIDENT. If there is no disruption in service then the situation is known as PROBLEM. The important is to remember “ disruption of service”

e.g Say your service or application or software should be available to users from morning 8AM to midnight. Now assume that at 12:30 AM the service goes down and need to be fixed before 8 AM in morning. This situation is a PROBLEM and important to be fixed before start of business next day. There is no disruption in business so we cannot term this situation as INCIDENT even though it was unplanned and unexpected.

A PROBLEM is root cause of the INCIDENT. It is a cause that leads to an INCIDENT or occurring again and again or towards a new problem entirely.

Fixing INCIDENT is urgent as it is causing service outage. All incidents have to be addressed ASAP. To fix an INCIDENT we need to analyse underlying cause. The two approaches to resolve an INCIDENT are

  1. Immediately fixing the problem or
  2. Working on the temporary fix to bring the service back to normal.

There are instances where we need to log in multiple incidents to get to the bottom of underlying problem causing disruption in service.

Unless a problem is causing immediate disruption in service it is not urgent but important to fix before start of business in order to prevent an incident or more incidents in future. Testing is often required to find what caused the problem and troubleshooting to find a permanent solution.

Resolving Incident focus more on restoring the services through a workaround rather than through thinking and working for a permanent solution..

Communication Flow for Incident or Problem

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