What is a Workaround

ITIL defines a Workaround as a temporary fix. Workarounds temporarily restore service. ITIL doesn’t specify how long “temporary” is, just that a workaround does not correct the root cause of a problem. “Temporary” could be any time frame from one second to fifteen years and beyond.[1]

A workaround is a temporary way to restore service failures to a usable level. For example; rebooting a server hang, so we don't know why the server failed, but if we reboot the server, the service will be up. The workarounds are used for reducing or eliminating the Impact of an Incident or Problem for which a full Resolution is not yet available. Workarounds could be found while trying to resolve incidents or problems. Workarounds for Incidents that do not have associated Problem Records are documented in the Incident Record and Workarounds for Problems are documented in Known Error Records.[2]

When a problem cannot be resolved quickly, it is often useful to find and document a workaround for future incidents, based on an understanding of the problem. A workaround is defined as a solution that reduces or eliminates the impact or probability of an incident or problem for which a full resolution is not yet available. An example of a workaround could be restarting services in an application or failover to secondary equipment. Workarounds are documented in problem records, and this can be done at any stage without necessarily having to wait for the analysis to be complete. However, if a workaround has been documented early in problem control, then this should be reviewed and improved after problem analysis has been completed. An effective incident workaround can become a permanent way of dealing with some problems, where resolution of the problem is not viable or cost-effective. If this is the case, then the problem remains in the known error status, and the documented workaround is applied when related incidents occur. Every documented workaround should include a clear definition of the symptoms and context to which it applies. Workarounds may be automated for greater efficiency and faster application.[3]

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