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Setting up a Team for Problem Management: a Case Study: Part I

A global company (we shall call it XYZ), developer of a billing and customer care application for GSM services (we shall call the application BACC), had recently expanded and had more than fifty customers in Europe and Asia. They had adopted ITSM guidelines several months ago and started the process by setting up a Service Desk.
The top management and the IT Manager then went ahead with restructuring the Problem Management team so that it could carry out its function of identifying and resolving errors, and reducing or preventing them.
At that time XYZ had a large team of analysts and software developers that took care of all tasks related to fixing software errors and developing changes according to change requests.
In order to embrace ITSM guidelines, it was clear that the team would have to be restructured to address Problem Management separately. In this series of case studies we will look at the experience, practices and key lessons encountered by the team to achieve the following:

  • Setting up a Problem Management team
  • Identifying KPI’s for the team and setting goals
  • Setting up metrics for team performance monitoring
  • Achieving customer SLA’s
  • Ensuring Continual Improvement in Problem Management.

Description of the actual processes followed in Problem Management, any tools used, and the process of interaction between different functions or teams are not a part of this series of case studies.

Setting Up the Problem Management Team

It was kept in mind that the Problem Management team had the following major functions:

  • Root Cause Analysis of errors which were reported by users of BACC
  • Correction of errors
  • Assisting with Work-Around solutions
  • Reduction and prevention of errors
  • Populating and maintaining the database of Known Errors.
  • Raising Change Requests when necessary.

The IT Manager analyzed the volume of work so far and studied the structure of similar teams with competitor companies using his contacts. He worked out that the initial Problem Management Team should consist of the following people:

  • Team Leader-Problem Management: The Team Leader would be responsible for the performance of the Problem Management team. He would be responsible for assigning work to team members and monitoring all work to completion.
  • Senior Functional Analyst: This person would have more than 5 years of experience in XYZ, and be familiar with all the functions of the modules of the application. He would also have the ownership of the database of Known Errors to ensure that it was being updated and maintained regularly and appropriately shared with other teams, especially those involved in incident management.
  • Analysts: Five systems analysts/developers each having knowledge and experience of working with three or more modules of the BACC application in software design and development.
  • Software Developers: Two software developers with experience in developing changes to different modules of the application had the responsibility of raising Change Requests and assisting with Work-Around solutions as necessary.

The Problem Management team was thus set up as a nine-member team. In the next part we will look at how the KPI’s were identified and goals set up for the team in an interactive way.