The problem management process in ITIL V3 has the section – Policies/Principles/Basic concepts (as other sections). The section starts with the concept called ‘Problem Models’.

ITIL explains that ‘some incidents might recur due to unresolved problems’. Sure, but in this case, are we creating incident models or problem models?.

The section also says this is very similar to Incident models.

Now, let us analyze this: What are incident models as per ITIL?

Those are models (documented steps ) that are maintained for handling “known” type of incidents which can recur in the future. The advantage of using incident models – ensures consistency, quick resolutions within pre-defined time lines.

As per ITIL, An incident model should have a) steps that should be taken to handle that type of incidents in chronological order  b) responsibilities c) timelines and thresholds for completing actions etc.

Now, from the description given for Problem model, it seems that similar models can be created for solving similar problems in the future. This is slightly misleading to say the least:

The very basic characteristic of ‘Problem’ is there is some thing ‘unknown’.  So we cannot create clear steps and procedure for ‘solving’ same type of problems in the future – If same issue occurs again, that is a ‘known’ issue – and hence can be handled through incident management (or event management) itself.  So, the model that create in these case are definitely not ‘problem models’.

Now what could be Problem models (if at all there is a need for that)?

Problem models could be a defined approach that the organization come up with – for specific type of problems. For example, it can define what type of RCA method to be used when, what type of problems (based on some defined criteria) can be handled in one function and what types need a cross-functional approach, etc.

Now this is different from Incident models and Request models that ITIL describes, where in the exact steps for handling ‘known type of ‘ issues/reqests are defined.

But this does not come out very clear from the explanation of Problem Models given in ITIL V3.