Troubleshoot like a Pro
September 16, 2018
One thing I've learned over my years is that common sense is not so common. Troubleshooting skills are not often celebrated, so having strong troubleshooting skills will make you extremely valuable to an organization. Effective troubleshooting gets things resolved and demonstrates progress. When faced with an issue, consider these tips to help you get to the root cause faster.
Reproduce the Issue
Don't just take someone's word for it that something is "wrong". Try to reproduce the issue yourself. If you lack the access, then watch them do it. This is important because you may see the root cause of the issue in the user's workflow. Once you can reproduce the issue, or have seen it done, you are now armed with an excellent foundation to address it.
Consider multiple contributing factors
When dealing with issues, there are many things that could be causing it. Some of the things you need to consider, and rule out are:
Break the issue into simple steps
- Time of Day - Scheduled jobs can often cause all sorts of issues
- Data - In some cases, users may be entering special characters into fields that don't support them. This should present itself when you watch/reproduce the issue.
- User Security - Permissions have to be ruled out. Compare the rights of the user with someone who works
- User Profiles - In virtual environments, data is often stored in user profiles. These profiles can become corrupt and need recreation
- Connectivity - Some applications will throw a series of errors if a database disconnection occurs. Before you go troubleshooting 10 errors, make sure you are still connected to the application
Approach troubleshooting in a tactical manner. Perform simple steps to help you rule out each step of a multi-step possibility
When all else fails, google it. The internet has become an amazing information resource. Hone your search skills to help you get just meaningful results.
Reviewing documentation for a product can help provide additional troubleshooting avenues that the vendor of a product is already aware of. The documentation can also show you the flow of data path so you can follow it from source to destination in case the issues if one of the many hops along the way.