Contribution to the Configuration Management Process
Problem tracking is another front-end to the configuration management process. Generally,
problems are resolved through some kind of configuration change, but must be accomplished
more quickly--because it's a problem--than a change request. Problems can also be generated
as a part of the configuration management process: If, for example, a change is deployed and it
breaks a part of your network, then a problem ticket should be opened to deal with the corrective
action. This process might seem roundabout--why not just fix the configuration error?--but
tracking problems in this fashion provides benefits:
· It helps you perform a post-mortem analysis to discover why your configuration
management process allowed a bad change to be deployed in the first place. Was the peer
review insufficient? Were steps in the process skipped for expediency?
· Tracking problems individually can improve future configuration management steps. For
example, when considering a change that impacts switch port configurations, past
problem tickets might indicate that changes of that nature generally result in performance
problems. The individuals developing and reviewing the changes can first review past
problems and try to build the new change to avoid the same problems that occurred in the
The result is beneficial feedback built-in to your configuration management process, making it
gradually more efficient and less prone to error over time.
Most problem tracking can be handled by the same ticket-tracking system you use to track
change requests. However, because problems tend to represent a more immediate and urgent
issue than a change request, some additional features in your tools will make those tools more
· Ability to assign a priority and, ideally, the ability to define your own table of priorities--
This table will help you better manage problems so that the most urgent ones can be
· A notification system for problems that have been sitting idle for a period of time (which
you would define)--This feature helps prevent problems from being forgotten. A means
of escalating problems can also be useful in case a problem is mistakenly assigned to an
engineer who is too busy to address it immediately; the escalation will move the problem
to someone else for faster resolution.
· A categorization system that allows you to easily group problems--This system is
especially useful if the problems are going to contribute to future changes because
categories make it easier to retrieve and review relevant problems when looking at what
has gone wrong with past configuration changes.