Problem Managers are Fire Fighters

There are two primary roles inherent in the duties of Problem Management, that of fire fighting and fire prevention. All organizations are faced with emergencies (fires) that occur without warning and that require rapid response by problem resolution teams. However, many of these emergencies that occur in typical organizations are not truly emergencies in that they could have been prevented.

We use fire fighters in this example, because there are great similarities between the job of a fire fighter and a problem manager. Both have to respond to emergencies and both have to justify their existence, when there are no emergencies to respond to. However, the benefits of fire prevention are so apparent in reducing the loss of human life, that no one questions the absolute necessity of investing in fire prevention. We all want fire fighters to go to our schools, speak to our children, conduct fire drills, conduct fire inspections, create emergency response plans, and ensure that lessons learned get incorporated into fire and building codes.

IT Problem Managers face the same type of situation. Although IT emergencies do not typically result in loss of life, they still benefit from the same types of proactive activities. Why isn’t it just as apparent that investment in problem prevention pays great dividends in IT just as fire prevention pays great dividends to our towns and cities? IT typically wastes an enormous amount of resources by failing to incorporate simple preventative measures such as examining trend information from Incident Management. They also fail to create cross discipline rapid reaction teams, create policies that incorporate lessons learned, and train end-users to avoid viruses, etc.

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