University of Southampton


Problem Management in ServiceNow

What is ServiceNow Problem Management?

Problem Management helps to identify the cause of an error in the IT infrastructure, reported as occurrences of related incidents, often affecting a number of users.

It is responsible for managing the life cycle of all problems and to prevent problems and resulting incidents from happening. It also aims at eliminating recurring incidents and minimising the impact of incidents that cannot be prevented. Resolving a problem includes the activities required to diagnose the root cause of incidents and to determine the resolution for the problem. Problem resolution and elimination of root cause often calls for applying a change to the configuration item in the existing IT environment.

Problem Management also maintains information about problems and the appropriate workarounds and resolutions, so the organisation is able to reduce the number and impact of incidents over time. In this respect, Problem Management has a strong interface with Knowledge Management so that the known error articles are documented thoroughly for any future reference.


How to create a problem ticket

1. Log in to ServiceNow

2. In the Filter navigator field, enter problem

3. Select Create New


Alternatively you can create a problem from an existing incident. Open the incident, select the hamburger menu and select Create Problem:


The New record page will display.

new record page displaying a blank record and the fields you will need to complete which are detailed later in this section

4. Enter problem details using the following fields

Fields marked with an asterisk are mandatory.

Note: There are slight variations in the fields found within problems, according to which tenancy the problem is logged for. For example, Student & Education Services will have additional fields for entering student details such as University ID, Email, Programme of study and Year of study.


Problem number will be automatically assigned for the problem and cannot be amended. It will have a prefix of PRB

First reported by  

(If you have created the problem from within an incident, this field will already be populated)

Enter the incident number that first identified the problem (or use the magnifying glass to search)

Multiple incidents can be related to the problem later in the record

Business service  

Affected system or service

Start typing the system or service name and select from the list of results. Or use the magnifying glass for further search options

Service Offering  

Field not currently in use (leave blank)

Configuration Item  

Configuration item affected

Logged for  

Tenancy the problem is logged for. This will default to your own


The state of the problem is visible from the header of the record

state of the problem ticket at the header of the record, new, assess, root cause analysis, fix in progress, resolved and closed

It is automatically updated when the Assess, Confirm, Fix, Resolve and Complete actions are used to progress the problem and further detail is documented and saved within the record


Priority of the problem according to impact and urgency (amend as required)

*Assignment group   Start typing the name of the assignment group that will own the problem and select from the list of results. Or use the magnifying glass to select from the list of groups
Assigned to  

Enter the name of the person the problem should be assigned to. Or use the magnifying glass for further search options.

Alternatively this can be left blank if the group's dispatcher should be responsible for assigning the problem


Use the drop down menu to select the required Category

*Problem statement  

Short description of the problem


Full description of the problem



  Work notes list

Select the padlock to add users to the watch list for this problem

Select Add me button to add yourself to the watch list

  Work notes Free text documenting how the problem is progressing 
Analysis Information  


  Primary Known Error article

Primary Known Error article related to this problem


Details of the workaround currently in place whilst the root cause is being investigated

  Cause notes

Details of the root cause once identified

Resolution Information  


  Resolved by

Name of the person who resolved the problem


Date the problem was resolved

5. Select Save

Progressing the problem

To progress the problem select the Assess, Confirm, Fix, Resolve and Complete actions in turn. The state model of a problem is shown in the flow diagram below.

At each stage you will have to build up more information, for example to declare a problem having a fix requires Cause notes and Fix notes.

Problem Management process diagram. The states are new, assess, root cause analysis, fix in progress, resolved and closed. To progress to the different states, use assess, confirm, fix, resolve and complete

Managing incidents through problems

Any number of incident records can be attached to a problem. In the Related lists section use Add or New (to create an incident) to attach incidents to the problem record. Note: incidents in a Closed state can not be attached due to security rules.

add or new buttons in the related lists section

Attaching incidents allows you to trigger the following actions on all incidents from the problem record.

  • Communicate Workaround - adds the workaround as a public comment to all active (not resolved) attached incidents
  • Communicate Fix - adds the fix notes as a public comment to all active (not resolved) attached incidents
  • Resolve - resolves all attached incidents that are active

Other functions

Like any task in ServiceNow, problems have work notes to record what has been done; automatically time-stamped and audited in the activity log. You can attach documents and email the assignee when updates are made.

Problems can have attached problem tasks. These are light-weight records that allow the problem owner to assign tasks to other groups who have permission to access the problem. Tasks are categorised into Root Cause Analysis or General.

As a special case, rather than resolving a problem you can Accept Risk. This means that you aren't going to implement a fix and accept the risk of future incidents for the same cause.

Selecting Create Known Error article will start a new Known-Error type Knowledge Base Article based on the problem details.


2022 Update

For information to staff using Problem Management prior to July 2022, an update has been made to the interface and it now follows a new state model, as detailed in this knowledge base article.

Before the update:

problem management record pre July 2022 update

After the update:

problem management record after July 2022 update


Related content

Pre-Prod can be used for training purposes (any data will be lost following regular clone-downs and behaviour may differ from live)

ServiceNow Documentation

Introduction to ServiceNow

Attached files:

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