Improving Problem Management – Root Cause Analysis (RCA) Sub-Process in ServiceNow

I wanted to add some thoughts to our last (rather long) post on defining a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) sub-process as part of a Problem Management discipline. Specifically, just a brief mention of how we might approach enabling Root Cause Analysis in an ITSM Toolset such as ServiceNow.

You may recall- we defined a sample RCA sub-process that has six steps we want each of our Problem Management teams to follow. A sensible next question might be, how do we ensure that the process is followed?

Example RCA Sub-Process

Consider Using ServiceNow Tasks
One approach is to use different Task types in ServiceNow. As in most modern ITSM tools ServiceNow has the capability to add multiple child ‘Task’ records to a parent process record, such as an Incident or Problem.

We can take advantage of this capacity to design different Task types for our RCA process. Each of these different Task types can then have different fields to handle the different phases of the process.

The above slides are simplified examples of a few of these different RCA Task types defined within ServiceNow. Depending on which RCA Task Type is selected, the ‘Task Details’ Tab displays different fields – those fields that are appropriate for the specified Task type.

There are a few variations to consider:
The ‘light’ version makes the different Task types available. They can be created and assigned as necessary.

A more prescriptive version defines a workflow to create the Tasks in a sequence each time an RCA is initiated. This ensures that the team is working through the different phases of the RCA process. This will help drive consistency in approach throughout the organization.

If desired, each different Task in the workflow can be assigned to a different individual, so responsibility can be distributed through the process.

Sample RCA Workflow in ServiceNow

The above is a representation of a very simple workflow in ServiceNow. It creates the RCA Tasks in a sequence. For example, when the Problem Definition Task has been completed successfully the Data Collection Task is then created. Each of these Tasks can be assigned to different individuals for completion. The slide below shows the different RCA Task types that are attached to a single Problem record.

Consider Using Tabs on the Problem Record
Consider this approach if you anticipate having one person responsible for the management of individual Problems throughout their lifecycle. The Problem record is assigned to that individual and they are responsible for completing the information for the respective RCA phases directly on the Problem record.

The sample slide above shows the RCA stages arranged as tabs on the Problem record itself. The individual managing the Problem record can then enter all the RCA information in one place.

These are just a few examples of how Service Catalyst is enabling the RCA sub-process in the ServiceNow environment for our clients. These concepts can be easily applied to any comprehensive ITSM Tool set. We hope they have given you some practical ideas for how to improve your Problem Management approach within your ITSM software.

If you would like to discuss these concepts further – you can contact us at or call us at +1.888.718.1708 and let us know you would like to discuss Problem Management, Root Cause Analysis or anything about ITSM and ServiceNow implementation services.