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IFS410 End User Support

IFS410 End User Support

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IFS410 End User Support

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  1. IFS410 End User Support Chapter 4 Troubleshooting Computer Problems

  2. What is Troubleshooting? • Troubleshooting is the process of defining, diagnosing, and solving computer problems • Uses several thinking and communications skills, information resources, strategies, and methods • Generally an iterative process • Both a scientific and creative process

  3. Sequential versus Iterative Problem-solving

  4. Troubleshooting as an Iterative Process • A repetitious process • A creative process that requires flexibility • Involves several paths or approaches to problems • Steps are repeated in a loop until a fruitful path is found • Avoids hit-or-miss, trial-and-error approach to troubleshooting

  5. Thinking Skills Used in Troubleshooting • Problem solving • Critical thinking • Decision making

  6. Problem Solving • Problem solving is an activity where there is a current state X and a goal state Y and alternate paths to get from X to Y • Objective is to get from X to Y quickly, accurately, effectively, or efficiently • Look for: • Analogies: how is this problem similar to others? • Contradictions: two facts cannot be true at the same time

  7. Troubleshooting Conceptual Model Problem Alternate Solutions Standard Problem Solver Information Constraints Solution

  8. A Problem-solving Example • Helpdesk: Good evening, my is Paul, how may I assist you? • Caller: My printer doesn’t print • Helpdesk: Ok. No problem. Is there paper in the printer? • Caller: Yes • Helpdesk: Good. Is there a paper jam? • Caller: I don’t know. • Helpdesk: OK. Are there any flashing lights on the printer? • Caller: There are no lights on the printer. • Helpdesk: Is the printer power cable plugged in? • Caller: No. • Caller: I’ve plugged it in and it’s working. You guys at the helpdesk ROCK.

  9. Problem-solving Strategies • Look for an obvious fix • Try to replicate the problem • Examine the configuration • View a system as a group of subsystems • Use a module replacement strategy • Try a hypothesis-testing approach • Restore a basic configuration

  10. Look for an Obvious Fix • Most computer problems are simple • Develop a check list of possible alternatives • Check for disconnected cables • Reboot the system

  11. Try to Replicate the Problem • Replication is a process of trying to repeat a problem in a different situation or environment • Try moving the problem to a different situation or environment – a different computer or user • Examine results: • The problem moves to a different situation • The problem is localized – dependent on a specific environment

  12. Examine the Configuration • Many problems occur because a combination of hardware and software do not work well together • Check on hardware and software installation requirements and possible incompatibilities

  13. View a Systemas a Group of Subsystems • A block diagram of the subsystems is sometimes helpful • Start at • Either end of a chain of events • In the middle of the chain • Trace the problem forward or backward

  14. Use a Module Replacement Strategy • Module Replacement replaces a hardware or software component with one that is known to work • Swap out suspect hardware components • Reinstall software packages

  15. Try a Hypothesis-Testing Approach • Formulate a hypothesis – a guess or prediction – about the cause of the problem • Based on experience • Uses critical thinking • Tip: try brainstorming with others to develop alternate hypotheses • Design an experiment (test) to see if an hypothesis is true or false

  16. Restore a Basic Configuration • Eliminate variables or factors that can make a problem complex or complicated • Remove hardware components to simplify a configuration • Disconnect a system from a network to observe its standalone operation

  17. Critical Thinking • Critical thinking is the cognitive skills used to: • Analyze a problem • Search for underlying logic or rationale • Everything happens for a reason. • Find alternate ways to explain an event or situation • Problem solvers goal is to find the root cause

  18. Critical Thinking (continued) Critical thinking includes • Creativity: The ability to find a novel or innovative solution to the problem • Hypothesis testing: A guess or prediction about the cause of a problem and test to prove or disprove the hypothesis (scientific process?) • Metacognition: The ability to think about your own thought processes

  19. Decision Making Decision making is the ability to: • Select an alternative from among completing alternatives • Weigh the pros and cons of each alternative against predefined criteria • Reach a decision

  20. Tools Troubleshooters Use • Communication skills • Information resources • Diagnostic and repair tools • Problem-solving strategies • Personal characteristics

  21. Communication Skills • Communication skills are important because most troubleshooting situations require at least some communication with an end user or vendor about a problem • Types of Communication Skills (Chapter 3 is all about) • Basic listening skills • Active listening • Probes • Critical questions • Explanation and verification

  22. How Troubleshooters Use Communication Skills • To get a basic description of a problem • To learn the user’s perspectives on the problem • To probe for additional information • To effectively communicate a solution back to the user

  23. Basic Listening Skills • Listen to the words a user chooses to describe the problem  Afraid/Unsure/Arrogant • Allow a user enough time to explain the problem  Difficult for new support employees • Try to obtain as accurate a description of the problem as possible • Tip: Listen for causal, If…Then … statements

  24. Active Listening • Active listening occurs when the listener is as engaged in the communication process as the speaker • Compare to a passive receiver of information • Repeating the problem to the ‘customer’

  25. Paraphrasing • Paraphrasing is an active listening skill in which you restate in your own words what you heard a user say • Used to resolve misunderstandings and get a clear problem description • Example • End user description: “I don’t know what happened, but the program doesn’t work.” • Support specialist paraphrase: “Let me make sure I understand. The program used to work, but now it doesn’t?”

  26. Probes • Probes are follow-up questions designed to elicit additional information about a problem • A sequence of probes often clarifies a problem situation • Example “When your computer crashes, is it always running the same program, or different ones?”

  27. Critical Questions • Critical Questions are designed to elicit important additional information from a user • Challenge assumptions a support specialist might make • Often reveal information a user wouldn’t have thought to relate

  28. Six Critical Questions • Has this system (or component or feature) ever worked? • Have you ever had this problem before? • Is the problem repeatable? • What were you doing just before you first noticed the problem? • Have you made recent hardware or software changes to your system? • Have you reboot recently?

  29. Explanation and Verification • Explanation is a communication skill in which a support specialist describes a solution to a problem so the user understands: • Why the problem occurred • The steps required to resolve it • Verification is a communication skill in which a support specialist makes sure that a user agrees that a problem has been resolved satisfactorily

  30. Follow – up • The job isn’t complete until the follow-up is complete • Follow-up is 50% of the job

  31. Information Resources for Troubleshooting • Personal experience • Scripts and Check Lists  Incident Management System • Knowledge bases  Including the Internet • Professional Contacts and Coworkers • Support Vendors and Contractors • Escalation and Team Problem Solving

  32. Personal Experience • Based on support agent’s background and previous experiences • Search personal knowledge for information about a problem or for similar problems • Tip: Develop a problem notebook • Make notes after a problem is solved and organize them by symptoms, equipment type, date, etc.

  33. Scripts and Check Lists • A script lists questions to ask and probes to follow-up • Flowchart (example Chapter 9, Figure 7) • Decision tree (example Chapter 4, Figure 4) • Arranged in a logical sequence • Cover all possible known paths to solve a problem

  34. Knowledge Bases • A knowledge base is an organized collection of information that is a resource in problem solving • Articles • Procedures • Tips • Pointers to information • Solutions to existing problems

  35. Examples of Knowledge Bases • Vendor manuals • Often contain chapters on troubleshooting and frequently asked questions (FAQs) • Trade books • Fill vacuum for well-written information about popular hardware and software products

  36. Examples of Knowledge Bases (continued) • Online help • Manuals • Help systems • Troubleshooting wizards • Web sites • Maintained by product and service vendors • Search engines

  37. Professional Contacts and Coworkers • Work colleagues • Web Sites with access to expertise • Informal relationships and networking • ListServs and Newsgroups • ListServ is an automated service that distributes e-mail messages posted to the ListServ to every member who has subscribed to the ListServ • Newsgroup is an Internet discussion where participants with common interests in a topic post messages

  38. Vendors and Contractors • May have seen a baffling problem before and be able to offer suggestions to resolve it • Outsourcing: An agreement with a support services support provider for problem-solving assistance • for a fee • by contractual agreement

  39. Escalation and Team Problem Solving • Escalation is referral of a difficult or complex problem to a higher support level for resolution • Team approach to problem solving • Mutual problem solving assistance • Team owns the problem, not an individual

  40. Diagnostic and Repair Tools • Software utilities that help troubleshoot computer problems • Categories • General-purpose and Remote Diagnosis • Hardware Diagnosis • Software Diagnosis • Network Diagnosis

  41. General-purpose and Remote Diagnosis tools • Remote access utilities help support users in remote locations • Support agents can see a remote user’s screen and enter commands on user’s system • Examples • Citrix’s GoToAssist • LapLink Gold • Symantec’s pcAnywhere • Windows XP

  42. Hardware Problem Diagnosis Utilities • Can detect defective hardware components • Can identify performance problems • Can recover some lost data • Can document and optimize configuration information • Examples • Symantec’s Norton SystemWorks • PC Certify • TouchStone’s WinCheckIt

  43. Software Problem Diagnosis Utilities • Can identify configuration information • Can identify and repair configuration problems • Examples • MetaQuest’s Triage eSupport • Dean Software’s PC Surgeon

  44. Network Problem Diagnosis Utilities • Can identify network connectivity and configuration problems • Can monitor network operation and performance • Can identify some security breaches • Can help recover from network problems • Examples • Symantec’s Norton Ghost • SMART’s InCharge products •’s network management tools

  45. Personal Characteristics of Successful Troubleshooters • Patience and persistence • Enjoy the problem-solving process • Enjoy working with people • Enjoy continuous learning opportunities • Tip: Subscribe to a trade publication that offers a broad perspective on trends in the computer industry

  46. Develop a PersonalProblem-solving Philosophy • Includes an understanding of the strengths a support specialist brings to each problem • Recognizes that selected tools and skills have been successful to solve past problems • Relies on information resources that have proved useful in past situations • Is improved by the metacognition process where a problem solver examines her or his own thought processes