A computer implemented method is provided for determining the source of a problem in a complex system of managed components based upon symptoms. The problem source identification process is split into different activities. Explicit configuration non-specific representations of types of managed components, their problems, symptoms and the relations along which the problems or symptoms propagate are created that can be manipulated by executable computer code. A data structure is produced for determining the source of a problem by combining one or more of the representations based on information of specific instances of managed components in the system. Computer code is then executed which uses the data structure to determine the source of the problem from one or more symptoms.