Investigating and tracking problems
BMC Helix ITSM: Smart IT is integrated with Problem Management to provide a comprehensive framework for creating and managing problem investigations. With Problem Management, you can initiate new problem investigations, perform root cause analysis, define known errors, relate problem investigations to other ticket types, and create knowledge articles. The goal of problem management is to reduce the number and impact of incident requests.
Smart IT provides an easy way to initiate problem and known error tickets. As a problem coordinator, you can initiate a problem investigation by creating a problem ticket in Smart IT. You can also relate problem investigations and known errors to other tickets so they appear on the Related Items tab of the related ticket. See Relating items to the current ticket for information about relating tickets to other items.
Before you begin
- The administrator must ensure that users have the minimum permissions needed to access the problem management functionality in Smart IT. For more information, see Problem Agent permissions in Smart IT roles and permissions.
- If your organization requires custom fields to capture additional data in problem requests, the administrator can add those fields to the problem investigation view. For more information, see Adding custom fields to your views using Smart IT.
- Smart IT with PWA enabled is not supported on Internet Explorer (IE).
- Browser navigation buttons and browser history might not work as expected when viewing Smart IT pages.
- You should not simultaneously view Mid Tier and progressive view enabled Smart IT screens through the same browser as this may cause issues with permissions.
To create problem investigations
When an incident review uncovers a recurring problem that is triggering incident requests, the problem coordinator creates a problem investigation in Smart IT and assigns it to a specialist. The problem coordinator can create a new problem investigation from the Smart IT navigation bar or from an existing incident ticket.
If the organization has a license for BMC Helix ITSM Insights, the problem coordinator can create a problem investigation from the Proactive problem management dashboard, which displays recurrent incidents as clusters. For more information, see .
To create a problem investigation from scratch:
- On the Smart IT navigation bar, select Create New >Problem Investigation.
- Complete the required fields and any optional fields that would help describe the problem clearly.
- Click Save ticket.
After you save the problem investigation, you can access it in the system, and other users with appropriate permissions can view and update it.
To create a related problem investigation from an incident:
- In the incident request form, open the Related Items tab.
- Select Create > Related Problem.
When you create a related problem investigation from an incident, many fields such as Company, Affected Service, Operational Category, Product Category, Problem Location, and Description are copied from the incident to the problem investigation. In the problem investigation form, the Investigation Driver and Assigned To fields are not filled in. You must make a selection for the Investigation Driver field before you can save the form. You can modify the problem investigation fields before you save the form.
To create a known error from a problem investigation
If a specialist recommends that a change is the best way to remove the root cause of a problem, initiate a change by creating a known error and assigning it to the change coordinator of the affected service.
- To create a known error from a problem investigation, open the problem ticket, set the Status field to Completed and the Status Reason field to Known Error. A draft known error is created.
- To create a related known error from a problem investigation, open the problem ticket, click the Related Items tab, and select Create > Related Known Error.
Some of the fields in the known error record are already filled out; for example, the Status field is set to Assigned.
If Knowledge Management is installed in your environment, you can also create knowledge articles to describe known errors. The information in the knowledge articles could be useful to subsequent users who encounter or analyze the same or similar issues and problems.
To create a related change request from a problem investigation or known error
If a problem coordinator or change coordinator believes that a change is required to address the root cause of a problem or a known error, the coordinator creates a related change request in Smart IT. Creating a related change request from a problem investigation or known error allows the coordinator to manage and track the required BMC Helix ITSM record and efficiently implement a structural solution. The change ticket appears in the Related Items tab of the problem investigation, and the Created and Created By relationships are automatically established. See Creating and managing change requests, which explains the entire lifecycle of a change request.
To create a related change request, open the Related Items tab of the problem investigation or known error, and select Create > Related Change Request.
To view and update problem investigations and known errors
A Smart IT user such as a problem coordinator, service desk agent, or change coordinator can view and track a problem investigation any time after it is created. (For more information, see Viewing and updating tickets.)
- To locate problem tickets, use the Ticket console and filter the list for Problem Investigation.
- To locate known errors, filter the list for Known Error.
You can open a problem investigation or known error by using any of the following methods:
- Ticket console
- Relationship to another record
- Update stream
- Push notification
- Email notification
To update a problem investigation or known error, click the pencil icon for the ticket or for the field group that you want to update.
To access problem investigations and known errors, you must have the proper BMC Helix ITSM user permissions. Any Smart IT user who has problem viewer permissions can see the details of a problem investigation or known error. Problem coordinators who have problem user permissions can also update the details of the problem investigation or known error.
To relate existing tickets to problem investigations and known errors
You can relate an existing ticket such as an incident or change request to a problem investigation or known error. When you relate an existing ticket to one of these items, the ticket appears on the Related Items tab of the problem investigation or known error. See Relating items to the current ticket and Overview of information displayed on a ticket in Smart IT for detailed information.
To relate an existing ticket to a problem investigation or known error:
- Open the Related Items tab.
- Select Relate Existing Item > <Problem investigation or known error>.
- Select the Relationship Type: Identified, Initiated, or Related To.
- Search for the problem investigations or known errors you want to relate.
- Click Save.
The selections you made are listed on the Related Items tab in the current ticket. The current ticket is also listed on the Related Items tab in the problem investigations and known errors you selected.
To create a knowledge article from a problem investigation or known error
A problem coordinator or assignee can create a knowledge article to capture the information required to resolve similar problems. When you create a knowledge article from a problem or known error, key content from the problem or known error records is copied to the knowledge article. For more information, see Creating knowledge articles for sharing information.
To locate existing knowledge articles, open the Resources tab and search for knowledge articles.
If a knowledge article does not exist for a problem you are researching, you can create a new one. Select Create a new article in the Resources tab or select Create New > Knowledge in the Smart IT navigation bar.
Use the Problem Solution and Known Error knowledge article templates for problems and known errors respectively. Review the format for the template you want, and click Use selected Template. For additional information about templates, see Setting up custom knowledge management templates with Smart IT.
After an article is created, it goes through the usual life cycle of a knowledge article.
Example of managing a problem investigation in Smart IT
Mary Mann is a problem coordinator in the Network Infrastructure group. Mary hosts a monthly incident review in which the review team evaluates incident tickets for the month and identifies recurring incidents for underlying problems with the services they are responsible for. When the team finds an issue with a routing table for network equipment that is causing recurring incident requests, Mary begins the problem investigation process:
- Mary locates an incident that was triggered by the problem, and on the Related Items tab, she selects Create > Related Problem Investigation.
- The new problem investigation is prepopulated with information from the incident. So, Mary updates the Investigation Driver field (a required field), and assigns the problem to a specialist. She sets the Investigation Driver to Re-Occurring Incidents. To select an assignee, she clicks the pencil icon in the Assignment group. Here she has the option of having Smart IT automatically assign the best-fit group, from which she can select a specialist. However, she selects Bob Baxter from the Backoffice Support group, because he has the most experience in dealing with this type of problem.
- After saving the problem investigation, Mary clicks the Email icon and emails Bob, informing him that he has been assigned the problem investigation. She also clicks the Follow icon so she can see updates to the problem investigation as it proceeds.
- Mary then relates incidents to the problem investigation. She selects the Related Items tab and clicks Relate Existing Item. She searches for routing table and selects related incidents. From the Relationship Type list, she selects Related to. Then she saves the ticket. The related items now appear on the Related Items tab.
Bob then initiates the root cause analysis. He begins by looking for a temporary workaround while he determines a permanent solution. Bob reviews knowledge articles, where he identifies a workaround to the issue. He then updates the problem investigation ticket with the workaround:
- In Smart IT, Bob selects Console > Ticket Console to locate and open the problem investigation. All open tickets assigned to him are displayed by default.
- On the Resources tab, Bob finds a knowledge article that provides a workaround to the issue and pins it to the problem ticket .
- Bob then updates the Workaround field with a summary of the procedure and instructions to refer to the knowledge article he pinned to the problem investigation. He then updates the status to Under Investigation and saves the ticket.
- Bob clicks the Email icon and emails Mary to inform her that he has identified a workaround and updated the problem investigation with that information.
With the temporary workaround in place, Bob continues to investigate the root cause. He finds that the solution is to reconfigure the routing table. Before initiating the change process, Bob updates the Root Cause field:
- Bob opens the ticket console and selects the problem investigation from the My Tickets list.
The Root Cause field is not visible because it contains no information. Bob clicks the pencil icon to edit the ticket and scrolls down to locate the Root Cause field. He sets the root cause to Infrastructure Issue. When he saves the changes, the field becomes visible on the ticket.
- Bob adds an Activity Note describing the root cause. He then emails Mary to inform her that he has identified the root cause. Mary emails Bob back, letting him know that the fix requires a change request.
Now that the root cause has been identified, Mary is ready to create a related known error:
- Mary opens the problem investigation, and under Related Items, she clicks Create and selects Related Known Error from the list.
- Mary reviews the imported information in the Known Error form and makes any changes or additions that are needed. She then saves the known error, which subsequently appears on the Related Items tab of the problem investigation.
Mary notifies the incident review team that the root cause has been identified and that a change request will be needed to implement a structural solution. After the team evaluates the root cause, Mary creates the change request:
- Mary opens the problem investigation and selects the Related Items tab at the bottom of the form.
- Mary clicks Create and selects Related Change Request.
- Mary follows the procedures in Creating and managing change requests to complete the change request.
- When the change is implemented, Mary updates the problem investigation status to Completed.
After the change process is complete, Mary sets the status of the problem investigation to Closed, which completes the problem investigation.