Tips for Kick-starting a Troubleshooting or Problem Solving Exercise
Here are a couple of pointers to help you to focus and make some real progress at the early stages of an investigation or troubleshooting exercise.
Background to the Problem – Why have you been called to support or help resolve the issue – what is the nature of the problem? – has the issue been defined?
What is the problem statement? Has the issue been clearly described? Do not jump head first into the exercise until a clear concise definition of the problem is available. A problem statement can come in many forms. If the team are having difficulty with this – start with 2 simple questions that will help you to define the problem. Typically this is either that
Something occurred that was not expected to occur
Something did not occur that should have occurred
Start here with these two scenarios to get the discussion going. How is it known that a problem occurred? What evidence is available? Assume nothing here.
When did the issue first occur?
When posing this question, it is important to understand the difference between the symptom and the underlying cause. A symptom is the effect of the problem and although related to the problem, the focus should remain on the reasons behind or the cause of the symptom. The first symptom may have manifested itself sometime after the root cause event that triggered the symptom. Therefore – How did the problem first manifest itself? What evidence is available to substantiate the claims? Event logs alarm logs, trends, historical data and audit trails can provide an insight into this.