Last updated on: August 20, 2021

In this section, we will expand upon the two common approaches in practicing problem management and how your IT environment maturity decides which approach is more suitable for your organization.

Reactive problem management vs. proactive problem management

Reactive vs proactive problem management

What is reactive problem management?

Reactive problem management reacts to the incidents that show up, then proceeds with the problem management process. Essentially, a reactive problem management approach aims to find and eliminate the root causes of known errors, and deals with a problem only when it shows up as major or recurring incidents.

What is proactive problem management?

Proactive problem management seeks out issues, faults, and known errors in IT systems by going through past incidents, network monitor data logs, and other sources of information, then proceeds to solve them permanently before they arise as incidents. This process is a part of continuous service improvement. Proactive problem management also aims to solve all known errors under the KEDB if it is feasible to do so.

Both types of problem management follow the same phases of problem-solving once presented with a problem: problem identification, problem control, and error control. The only difference is the approach towards identifying the problem. Nonetheless, both processes offer distinct advantages to service management, and require unique resources to function.

Choosing between reactive and proactive problem management approaches

how to implement reactive and proactive problem management

Organizations that are new to problem management should focus their efforts on implementing a reactive problem management process. It's sensible to use the problem-solving talent of the existing service desk staff when they aren't occupied with daily incidents; in doing this, they gain valuable experience before implementing proactive problem management.

As an organization's service delivery matures, it should transition to a proactive problem management process. This transition should be carried out by a team with a good analytical skill set that's highly proficient in IT infrastructure and the tools and technology that support the organization.

However, many organizations don't undergo this transition since it's tricky to quantify the benefits of proactive problem management, which can be perceived as solving potential problems and not actual ones. Nevertheless, some of the world's most effective organizations practice proactive problem management and find tremendous benefit in it.

Up next:

Despite reactive and proactive problem management following the same phases of problem-solving once presented with a problem, there are multiple techniques to get to the root cause of a problem. Let's move on to the various techniques used in problem management.

Assess your incident response readiness to kick-start your problem management journey

The zeroth step in the journey towards proactive problem management is establishing a robust incident management process in your IT environment. Discover how Zoho, our parent company, handles the spectrum of incidents thrown at it year over year and assess your incident management readiness at an enterprise scale.

Download a free copy of our incident management handbook and a best practice checklist to review your problem management solution.

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    Problem management feature checklist

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    ITIL incident management handbook

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