Troubleshooting is a systematic approach to problem solving used in the field of Information Technology, which involves tracing the root source of a problem before proceeding to try possible solutions and documenting the results. The nature of problems faced in this field, necessitates professionals to develop this skill from the onset. Therefore, it is essential for Information Technologist specialists to learn and perfect this skill in order to achieve any form of success in this field.
It is widely regarded that the main task of professionals in the information technology field is finding solutions to challenging problems relating to technology. It is also equally important to note that these solutions often go wrong or fail to work as expected. This therefore brings up the importance of a well-defined problem solving approach. An effective troubleshooting procedure is systematic, meaning it is organized, thoughtful and methodological (Ranjbar, 2004). Therefore, this makes it very crucial since it ensures the solutions employed are functional and maintained. The importance of this skillset is further exemplified by today’s fast-paced world where even minimal downtime is equated with large losses in revenue and potential loss of customers. It has been estimated that the loss from an hour of downtime for a bank can reach amounts of up to 2.6 million dollars (Ganek, 2004).
A systematic troubleshooting method also includes extensive documentation. This involves recording the problems faced, the steps taken in seeking the solution, and eventually the solution itself. It may also include alternative courses of action in case the solution does not work for one reason or another. This therefore makes it a continuous process which keeps on adding to the body of knowledge on the subject.This is crucial not only to the current users of the particular technology but also to future users. The problems that may have been experienced in the past are quickly solved, saving valuable time and money. In addition, the problems that have not yet been solved are well documented and further efforts can be made by another person to solve the problem. This creates value and progress regardless of whether or not the problem has been solved (Ranjbar, 2004). Being able to accurately diagnose a problem and document results and findings is a common task faced by information technology professionals on a daily basis. Mastering systematic troubleshooting is therefore not only highly valuable to any information technology professional, but also to organizations employing such professionals because of the value it adds in terms of man-hours and revenue saved.
An important component of an effective troubleshooting process is excellent communication skills. This includes both written and spoken communication. It should also be considered that the stickiness of information should be kept at a minimum. Stickiness refers to the incremental cost of transferring a unit of information to an information seeker in a form usable by the seeker (Von Hippel 1994). In both written and spoken communication, this is a beneficial skill and the stickiness of this information should be maintained at a minimum. This stickiness depends on the nature, amount and the providers of information. This is even more relevant today because technology and the internet are a large part of majority of the people’s lives. This means that the cost should be negligible since there are more users of the information and good communication skills contribute greatly to reducing the information stickiness.
One of the components of effective troubleshooting skills is high attention to detail. This is especially important in the stage of gathering problem symptoms or indicators before proceeding to seek possible solutions. It is very important to pay attention to detail and to consider all factors that may be pertinent to the problem at hand, no matter how minute they may be. This is especially relevant in technology because most of the times what is often ignored ends up being the root of the problem (Pinnock, 2004). This is an essential part of the troubleshooting process and is crucial to information technology specialists.
The concept of having an open mind and impartiality also play a big role in a successful troubleshooting process. This involves being prepared to discard any previous bias and being ready to discard possible causes that are not backed by tests (Pinnock, 2004). Developing this specific skill is crucial because it reduces the time that may be spent seeking problems in areas where they may not be found. It promotes an objectivity-based process where anything that is not pertinent is put aside and the points backed by facts are focused on. As an information technology specialist, it is important not to waste valuable time and resources on misguided reasoning since the timely working of systems is of utmost importance. It is therefore a necessary skill to develop, to enhance maximum productivity and preventing potential wastage of time and resources.
Systematic troubleshooting is indeed a crucial skill for today’s information technology specialists. The various factors making up a good systematic troubleshooting process have been discussed. Other relevant skills related to this such as the ability to divide a workload into multiple smaller and manageable tasks is also very relevant in today’s information technology sector. Every information technology specialist should seek these skills to remain relevant in today’s environment.
Ganek, A. (2004). Troubleshooting Computing Problems.Scientific Computing & Instrumentation, 21(2), 29–29.
Pinnock, S. (2004).The Art of Systematic Troubleshooting.Lulu.com.
Ranjbar, A. S. (2004). CCNP CIT Exam Certification Guide: CCNP Self-study. Cisco Press.
Von Hippel, E. (1994). “Sticky information” and the locus of problem solving: implications for innovation. Management science, 40(4), 429-439.