ITIL has a Problem

April 1st, 2014 | Posted by Don Boylan in Favorite | ITIL


We in the ITIL community have a problem (that is “problem” with a little “p”, not “Problem” with a capitol “P”). The problem is that ITIL has taken the most common word people use when life lets them down, and defined it with a very specific meaning. When speaking aloud, it is hard to differentiate verbally between life’s little problems (with a lowercase “p”), and ITIL specific Problems (with a capitol “P”). That is why when I speak, I very specifically never use the word “problem” unless I am talking about a series of Incidents with similar root cause, or a single significant Incident that is too painful/costly to let happen again. This restriction on one of the more common words in the English language is a problem.

So what words are left? Incident? Service Request? I don’t casually throw around the words incident or service request in my everyday conversation. I mean, really, who does? For most people you talk to, you might as well be speaking Latin.

So I use the word “Issue”. The word “Issue” has not be co-opted by any framework to have a specific definition and can be used in place of the word problem with no loss of meaning or grammatical gymnastics.

Also, when a user calls, do we know right away if it is an Incident or Service Request? Almost never. But we can say that a user is calling because they have an issue they need addressed. Is it a Service Request? Is it an Incident? Is it a Problem? Who knows? Right then, until I determine the nature of the call, it’s an Issue. Maybe it will become an Incident. Maybe it will be a Service Request. Sometimes it might escalate to the level of a Problem. But until I know how to define the nature of the call, it’s an Issue.

You got an issue with that?

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can leave a response, or trackback.

One Response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *