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ITIL :: View topic - Deadline to reopen a Problem ticket
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Deadline to reopen a Problem ticket

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Joined: Nov 11, 2009
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 2:57 am    Post subject: Deadline to reopen a Problem ticket Reply with quote

Hi everyone,
I know there was one discussion regarding reopening a problem ticket back in 2006 so I wanted to make sure reopening is still a valid process.
We are currently in discussions with our tool engineers and have asked that our PM team be allowed to reopen Problems for three reasons.

1. To add more information into the work log that may have been late in coming due to overworked teams, newly discovered process or technical details that add value or because ticket documentation wasn't performed correctly.

2. The problem reoccurred with the same exact symptoms and break point. Meaning, we didn't fix RC after all, or we just fixed part of the RC.

3. The ticket was closed by accident Embarassed

And if reopening a ticket is acceptable, should there be a point of no return? I agree we wouldn't want to reopen a ticket 2 years after it had been closed, but is 3 or 6 months reasonable?

Our Engineers have a black and white perspective of the tool and are adamant that a problem ticket should never be reopened. Either the RC was fixed and the ticket closed or if RC reoccurs, then a different problem ticket should be opened.
Has anyone else run across times where a problem ticket needed to be reopened, even if it was just to add corrections or additional information to the work log?
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Joined: Mar 04, 2008
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Location: Helensburgh

PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm not going to go back to the original discussion and so I won't know if I'm repeating things.

Firstly, acceptable to whom? This is a management issue and nothing to do with ITIL You can write a policy that states under what circumstances a Problem record may be reopened and how that reopening will be managed/supervised/logged.

Secondly an opinion on your three criteria:

1 and 3 should be very rare occurrences (otherwise that is a management issue on its own) and for the first one, there is nothing wrong with improving the information available (assuming that is the best way to do this) and for the third, well, if you don't reopen it what can you do?

2 should never occur, but anyway I don't see why you would want to reopen a closed incident when you later discover the problem still exists*. The information and analysis from the first time round will still be available and if you still have the problem, you want a fresh approach since the first was a failure. I think you might want to open two problems, the one you are talking about and another to find out what is wrong with your problem review process which should have confirmed the solution before closing the problem.

*By the way your problem cannot reoccur. Since the problem is intimately associated with the underlying cause of the symptoms, it never went away even if the symptoms did and you have simply not found the underlying cause. Now, if the same symptoms have now appeared on, say another CI of the same type as you originally had the problem with, then you do not have a new problem in terms of investigation, but a copy of the problem and you need to manage the resolution (and perhaps anticipate the possibility of it affecting any other boxes).

The "need" or desire to reopen a closed problem record should be such a rare occurrence that all the policy you really need is to identify the authority to approve it and let that person decide practically on the basis of the circumstances each time. If it is happening often enough that there is a debate over it, then something else is wrong with your management system.
"Method goes far to prevent trouble in business: for it makes the task easy, hinders confusion, saves abundance of time, and instructs those that have business depending, both what to do and what to hope."
William Penn 1644-1718
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Joined: Sep 21, 2006
Posts: 63
Location: USA

PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree for the most part with Diarmid, but would like to add a few thoughts.

First on the second scenario. One key question to ask when implementing a solution to a problem is what you would need to see to make you (and others) believe that the problem was successfully resolved? For many problems the answer to that question is straightforward. If your problem is that you see error X every time you press button A and after implementing the fix you can press button A without getting any errors, then you can probably declare victory and close your problem ticket. However, there are problems where this is not so cut and dry. I have seen this especially with problems that occur intermittently with long irregular intervals. The question then is for how long you need to see the system function without issues before you are confident that the problem has indeed been resolved. This brings with it the risk that you close the problem record too early. In our organization we keep a close eye on incidents logged against closed problems. These can be an indicator of a problem that was considered resolved while it really wasn't.

On the third scenario: accidental closure of problem tickets will happen. I would caution against allowing just everybody to reopen closed problem records. It might encourage behavior that you would rather not have. You could consider to only allow people with a specific role to reopen a problem when presented with a valid reason. In our organization we just open a new problem record and relate it to the one that was inadvertently closed.
Manager of Problem Management
Fortune 100 Company
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