Global Knowledge

You can save time by becoming a better problem solver
Our technology is bound to fail, despite our best efforts at preventative maintenance and monitoring. We hope for a graceful fail, but it is more like a disaster! Although I may be exaggerating a bit, the core truth is that stuff breaks. This is where troubleshooting comes into play.
Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. They draw on their past experience, knowledge, and even a little intuition to find the root cause and provide a path to solving the problem. It is not always an easy path. Even the most skilled troubleshooter may be surprised by an off-the-wall solution.
These four proven guidelines will help you solve any problem you encounter.

1. What’s wrong?
It is almost impossible to fix a problem properly if you can’t see it, especially with computers. There are only two ways to “see the problem”. Either someone can explain the problem to you in sufficient detail, or you must recreate the problem to be able to see it yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to solve all the problems presented to you by basic users or people with very limited technical skills. We must try to get the computer working as the user intended. If you are unable to reproduce the problem, it is best to not do anything. Ask the user to take screenshots of the problem the next time it happens, or to let a technician see it before it becomes worse.

2. Keep it simple, stupid!
It’s not a slur, but it’s a way of saying that I don’t think you are stupid. But I like the sentiment. It’s easy to be creative with our troubleshooting and find complex (and sometimes exciting) solutions, especially when we have more technical knowledge and experience. Perhaps we are trying impress our boss. Maybe it’s because we get so used to the complicated things that we forget about the important stuff. My argument is that simple solutions will make your boss happy.
Let me put it this way: If you can’t connect to the network, would your boss prefer that you request a new router or a swap for a cable? The cable because it is cheaper, quicker, and less disruptive to the network. Try to find the simplest and cheapest solution first before you consider more complicated and costly options. Don’t discount the obvious solutions. We tend to laugh at our problems, but “is it plugged-in?” “is the power on?” and “have your tried turning it on and off again?” are often effective solutions. More than 80 percent of network problems are related to the OSI model’s Physical Layer.

3. Practice, practice, practice
There are many books, courses, and study guides that cover troubleshooting. As an instructor, I find it very valuable to have resources to refer to when starting out as a technician. If you want to be a great troubleshooter, get out there and do it. Try to fix a broken computer. You can only learn by doing. Although you can read about memory problems, you won’t be able to actually hold a memory module in your hands, hear the POST codes, or replace a module on a motherboard.

4. “I don’t know”
This phrase is often frightening to technicians. It is hard for anyone to admit that they are in excess of their heads. A good technician isn’t afraid to admit when they are in trouble.