Many people start the new year by making resolutions – and the ones that stick are the resolutions where you work to change your habits over time. Saying I will quit eating sweets entirely will never work for me – if you know me, I’m quite a cookie monster! But limiting myself to one cookie a day is much more realistic. I get a that bite of sweet I need without completely depriving myself, but still cut my normal cookie consumption down dramatically.
So how does that thought turn into this blog? Streamlining your support requests can be quite easy if you adopt a few new habits. But first a quick look into what goes through a consultant’s mind when you log a support request. The first several thoughts are:
- Is this a “How To” question?
- Is this a question regarding new features or functionality?
- Is this an “It’s Broken” question?
“How To” Questions
The key to getting the best answer for “How To” questions is to really give the details of what the end goal is. If you tell me that you want to print a report of journal entries, the answer you get will likely be totally different then if what you really need is a report for the auditors that shows who entered/posted all the journal entries for a given time frame.
Like “How To” questions, the key for “New Features” is to give all the details as well as giving the end goal. If you request information on document imaging, but what you really need is workflow management with off-site approvals then the information you receive may not fit your needs or your goals.
“It’s Broken” Questions
“It’s Broken” questions are the fun questions for consultants because we get to be detectives. What did happen, what didn’t happen, what information do we have to support what seemed to have happened, etc. We get to look inside the software and sometimes dig into the back-end database too. This type question is actually the place where your new habits can practiced and can be the most beneficial.
When you submit an “It’s Broken” question, the consulting brain starts trying to determine what the variables are. The first questions asked are designed to start defining and eliminating variables. Questions like:
- Does the problem happen in all companies?
- Does the problem happen for all users?
- If the problem is user specific, does it happen for that user on multiple workstations?
- Does the problem happen every time or sporadically?
- Has anything been installed/removed/changed on the problem workstation?
In addition, knowing as many precursor details as possible is key:
- Was there an actual error or did something just not work (or not work as expected)?
- If there was an error, what processes were being performed when the error was received?
- What was the exact error? PRINT SCREENS ARE EXTREMELY HELPFUL
- A standard Windows install includes the “Snipping Tool” program. Pin this to the task bar to capture errors and windows.
- The hardest error to troubleshoot is the one that wasn’t written down. If specific error information isn’t available and the error can’t be recreated, then the troubleshooting process is starting from ground zero.
This is just a starting list of questions, but hopefully you get the idea – more information is always the best way to get the fastest and most accurate support.
So for this new year, if you want to streamline your support requests – start by going down the questions listed above whenever you need support, including as much information as you can in the support request, and don’t forget to capture your error messages! Happy New Year!