My 8 Golden Rules to Troubleshooting

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Golden Rules

These are my 8 Golden Rules to Troubleshooting....

1. The 'best' solution is always a compromise.

No solution is perfect. Every solution requires some compromise. This could be a compromise on a business process solution as opposed to a technical solution, or could be a compromise on what is achievable by tomorrow and what is achievable next week. Understanding the critical measures when developing a solution will assist in ensuring the best solution is implemented. 

2. There is never just 1 solution.

If my car breaks down tomorrow, I can call a mechanic or a taxi, or walk or cycle to work. There might be a reason why some of these aren't suitable but they are all solutions to the problem. If you only see one solution look again. 


3. It is usually easier to change software but cheaper and faster to change business process. 

Updating software is often seen as the best solution but requires time and money to do properly. Instead of looking for a technical solution, look for a practical solution as there are always different ways you can achieve the same result that may be faster and easier to implement. 

4. Often it is not what is being done but how it is being done that causes a problem. 

Software developers know how their program should work and they build processes to work in a certain way. While software is black and white, people are grey. Users do not always follow the steps a program expects them to follow and this could lead to unexpected results. Understanding the steps a user takes to cause a problem is usually the fastest way to understand the problem.

5. You need to know what AND why before you can advise how. 

When faced with a problem a developer will instantly begin thinking of technical solutions. While potentially correct these solutions may not always be the best. A business analyst will always ask what is trying to be achieved and why so that the best solution not the obvious solution can be found. 

6. If the answer is always in the last place you look, then try looking there first. 

The biggest challenge for an experienced troubleshooter is not to jump to conclusions as this can cause obvious solutions to be overlooked. Treat every challenge as a new opportunity and build best practices based on your understanding of the technology to achieve faster results. 

7. Prevention is always better than a cure. 

When you identify a problem develop a solution to stop it happening again. If you have to fix the same problem twice you are doing it wrong. Most problems start with a set of circumstances. Understanding the circumstances that lead to a problem provides you with an opportunity to either prevent those circumstances from reoccurring or to put in place a process to identify those circumstances and take action before they cause a problem. 

8. You don't need to know the answer to everything, you need to know how to find the answer to anything. 

The best troubleshooters don't know all the answers, they know how to find them by drawing on experience and by using the resources available. Learning how to find answers instead of learning the answers is the most valuable lesson of all.


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