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5 Troubleshoot Steps on Service Solutions

27 May, 2016 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+

We are so reliant on technology these days, from hardware to software, mobile device to workspace, and the many types of applications supporting “...as a service.”  Many of our daily work actions are interdependent on SaaS solutions like Salesforce, Workday, Office365 and WebEx.

For the most part, SaaS solutions are seamless, but what happens when issues occur?

As much as technology has advanced, proper troubleshooting seems to have lost its form. Ask any great copier technician, systems engineer, or consultant what makes them better than their counterparts, and all will agree it is their ability to troubleshoot. 

I ask a very basic question to everyone I interview: “Can you explain troubleshooting to me in 30 seconds or less?”  What I am looking for is a repeatable process regardless of what the issue is at hand. I can’t tell you how many people struggle with this question. Seems the art of troubleshooting never ages. In fact, I’ve written articles on this topic as far back as 2006, and the five basic steps to troubleshooting remain consistent and are still very relevant today, in order to utilize or resolve most issues.

5 Troubleshoot Steps:



Clarity is what we are looking for here; the ability to clearly define what the real issue is. Remember the saying "knowing is half the battle?" This is never more evident than by really digging deep to find and define the problem in question. This is the start of the process.

Keys to remember:

When a company or individual has an issue, they typically are so frustrated (or uninformed of the technology or process) that they will not be able to clearly tell you what the issue is, or get extremely annoyed if you start questing them for details. “My computer does not work. My company is struggling. I can’t print. Can you fix this?”  Usually, these vague requests alert us to a problem, but it’s our (business and/or tech expert) responsibility to define the real issues of the larger problem and quickly effort to right their challenges.



Once we have the clarity to know the real problem, we are now able to start gathering data or information in an attempt to find possible solutions or fixes for the issue. A good way to gather information is via interrogative pronouns such as “who, what, where, and how.” Simply asking discovery questions can provide valuable information and target areas where the real fix lies. 

Keys to Remember:

It’s here that you’ll want to consider probable cause for the failure. First ask some basic questions to get started. Simple, initial questions do matter before jumping into a big fix, even the basic “Is everything plugged in properly? Has the equipment been moved?  What has changed since it was last working?”



Once all of the information has been gathered, we can now clearly implement a process or plan of action as to how we are going to attack these issues. See what options can be tailored to meet the needs of the organization / client.

Keys to Remember:

·         Make one change at a time.

·         Make transparent changes first (if there are multiple causes for a problem, solve what has the least impact on your user’s business first).

·         Do not create security holes when implementing your changes.

·         Important that you can back out of or revise any changes you make.



Once we have a plan or process in place we/you are now ready to execute these objectives with the hope of resolving the defined issues. Nothing works well without a defined, approved plan to initiate from. Depending on need; basic, moderate or intensive requirements, there are key aspects to consider before implementing. Once success has been achieved, proceed to Step Five.

Key to Remember: After executing your plan, process or service, write down the steps taken to conclude the situation. Even if it is a simple resolution or common fix, leave nothing to memory.


To re-emphasize, it is critical for technology experts to always document their results. By doing this we can define and calculate what has worked and what has not. That way you’ll have the information on hand if the user/client asks for an explanation in order to understand the process and/or if the problem arises later you (or another tech expert sent out) will have a record of what was done before. This way, you can avoid repeating the same process or see that the problem needs more intensive servicing than before.  Basically, if Step Four did not resolve the issue, then examine why and simply redefine the process, or proceed to Step One again.

Notably, as a former coach, I like to use the formula of Performance = Potential – Interference.  This is a great way to look at increasing performance (productivity) while utilizing potential elements that are available, while eliminating the issues that interfere with a successful and efficient outcome. Having a formula and method to troubleshoot just about anything has been priceless in my business. By following the Five Steps of Troubleshooting, you can avoid a lot headaches and wasted time.



Eric Stavola is U.S. Director of Pre-Sales Engineers for mindSHIFT, a Ricoh company. Contacts: (c) (619) 455-2732 / (e) Eric.Stavola@mindshift.com 

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