My Troubleshooting Process

This is my troubleshooting process that I have printed out on one A4 page in short bullet form on the wall above my desk. Here and there I look up at it to keep it fresh in my mind and improve my troubleshooting skills. From time-to-time I review and edit it to make it better. If you have any tips or suggestions on things to add/edit on the list please leave a comment.

Ensure a ticket is logged

Set outlook reminder, flag for follow up

Request more information if needed

  • context/flow through steps and behaviors
  • exact text of error messages
  • analyse impact and affected users
  • screenshots
  • ambiguous or misunderstood terms and information
  • what the user expects us clearly to do (due time, quality, requirements)
  • Prioritisation, impact on work
  • Time windows, availability of user
  • Contact information of all involved
  • Only affecting one person, or many?
  • Escalate if necessary (eg: to vendors)
  • Use work around to get the user working on something if there is one

Research information if needed

  • search engines
  • related helpdesk tickets that have been resolved
  • online support forums
  • system documentation
  • online product/vendor documentation
  • online tech sites and tutes
  • books, education and informative articles
  • online product manuals
  • diagnostic tools (eg: procmon, windbg, eventlog)
  • ask questions or communicate with colleagues
  • Backup data and have a play (to obtain more information, identify more symptoms, isolate the problem)
  • call vendors or support

Actions taken

  • Consider likelyhood of what the issue is and try quick fixes (to solve issues more efficiently)
  • Don’t just reimage, reboot, or logoff. It’s important to understand what the issue is to solve the root cause and become more skilled.
  • Provide a workaround to get the user working while the issue is being resolved (eg: ready spare laptop)
  • Build quality into the requirements of the solution: availability, continuity, performance and capacity, security, usability, reliability, efficiency, maintainability, portability, flexibility
  • Use creative techniques, think outside box, from different angle
  • Try not to over complicate, keep as simple as possible
  • Consider and suggest solutions that fix the issue and improve the users ability to do their job
  • Balance between a reactive and proactive solution
  • Attempt to give user some information and let them work out the solution (often efficient and often proactive)
  • Think of many solutions and choose the best solution
  • Use intuition and logic, be careful with assumptions (especially with some non tech savvy people)
  • Only ethical solutions that glorify God, objectivity
  • establish trust and relationship with people – be empathetic, helpful, polite, friendly, yet assertive where required (objectivity)
  • Solution should have good balance between short and long term
  • Be a team player, do what needs to be done, be selfless
  • Update all actions taken in ticket for your reference and other peoples reference (also for management and conflict resolution benefits)
  • Stretch yourself often, accept challenges to grow
  • Look for root cause and eliminate
  • Try to automate wherever possible
  • Solution as simple as possible but no simpler
  • Solve other incidents if you see them and provide other services if needed
  • Attempt proactive and preventative action

Afterwards

  • Create documentation where required (in a way that an external person can read it and understand our setup)
  • Write down projects, improvements, or ideas that have come from the incident
  • Mark requests where root cause has not been cured
  • Document workarounds
  • User doco if needed
  • Ensure root cause is eliminated
  • communicate with colleagues or appropriate people – update them with required information
  • Ensure user satisfaction. Follow up with the user. Follow up with testing (deductive or highly inductive evidence everything is working)
  • Testing to ensure solution is of a high quality standard
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