IT Troubleshooting Part 2.



IT Troubleshooting  Part 2

In this IT Troubleshooting part 2 we’ll cover some of the finer details of the troubleshooting process. Hope this give you a better understanding.

In today’s installment we’ll cover some of the finer details of the troubleshooting process.

Answer to questions raised in Part 1


But first the answer to last week’s installment.

The question last week was:

If a log file contains the following “18 Dec 2012 21:16:13 exception from hresult 0xf004f006”

You should use Google to look for a match. Your choices for searching might be:

  1. exception from hresult 0xf004f006
  2. “hresult exception 0xf004f006”
  3. “hresult 0xf004f006” exception

It’s very important to understand the differences between these three searches:

  1. exception from hresult 0xf004f006 gives 620 results
  2. “hresult exception 0xf004f006” gives 0 results
  3. “hresult 0xf004f006” exception gives 614 results

Actual Google Search Results

The answer to the question is “none of the above”. The correct way to have researched this error on Google would have been the EXACT phrase below, ESPECIALLY the double quotes (“”):

“exception from hresult 0xf004f006” – WINNER! gives 10 results

Learn how to use double quotes properly and practice!

Now we will continue with our troubleshooting installment part 2.

How Long Should You Spend Troubleshooting


This is normally quite easy to figure out. Part of Snowball’s mission statement is, “put yourself in the customer’s shoes.”. How long, reasonably, do you think the client wants you to take?

Criteria: How much time to spend on troubleshooting


If any of the following is true, time for troubleshooting is over and it’s time to escalate

  • The client is losing money
  • You cannot solve the problem in a reasonable time (determined by client requirements)
  • The client is offline
  • There is any other financial impact to any party
  • Your business reputation is on the line

Always remember! Good service equals fast turnaround time!

When to Escalate


When you cannot troubleshoot any more you have to escalate the problem.

We work in a very high paced environment and our clients are very demanding. You have to escalate as quickly as is reasonably possible.

Tips for escalating


  1. Always escalate as quickly as possible. The damage can get a lot worse if you wait too long to escalate. Clients will suffer and as a direct consequence our reputation and ability to provide good service suffers.
  2. Escalate before it becomes a real problem for the client.
  3. When you escalate, the senior engineer will want to know at least some the following:
  4. When did the problem start?
  5. What have you already tried to solve it? (he wants to see if you’ve done some homework)
  6. Where have you reached out for help already?

On point 3, always make sure you have this information ready BEFORE escalating the problem.

Tip for working with Eugene: Eugene likes it if problems are escalated when they happen, not afterwards (it’s easier to solve a problem when it happens).

What to Watch out For when Troubleshooting / Escalating


  1. Always consider the obvious. Sometimes a seemingly complex problem actually has a simple cause.
  2. Your ego might stop you from escalating, because you think “I can do this myself” without realizing the urgency of the problem. This seems to be the biggest problem at Snowball, we forget clients are suffering because of a difficult problem.
  3. You are scared to ask other people because you think they might think you’re an idiot. We’re all a team here and even Eugene doesn’t have all the answers.
  4. You think you have established the pattern, but actually the pattern is different.
  5. You are looking at the wrong log file.
  6. You get sidetracked and put the problem on the backburner. The problem is difficult and instead of focussing on it you keep on putting if off.

Tip: On point 6, if you’re really busy and it’s a complex problem, it’s best to log the problem on a forum / Stack Exchange, so that you can have the community work on the problem whilst you are busy with other things.

Problem articulation is a real skill that only gets better with practice.

Even sending an e-mail to technical (CC Eugene) saying: “I’m working on this complex problem with regards to blue screen on CP2 but I’m struggling and I’m putting this on the backburner.” will assist your turnaround time.

Key points about this sentence:

  • Lack of ego
  • Admitting you’re busy (that’s good)
  • Reaching out for help
  • Fairly specific (blue screen, CP2, etc.)

Articulating is a skill that needs practice.

 Snowball – Connecting Everything