Troubleshooting: Who and Where

When troubleshooting technical problems, I recommend answering six questions regarding the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the situation.  In this post, I will discuss WHO and WHERE.

Who does this issue concern?  And where does it occur?

Asking WHO and WHERE is important because it helps to understand how widespread or isolated an issue is.  Is it one user who gets an error message?  Is everyone noticing a delayed response?  Is one group of users experiencing the problem and not another?  You can figure out who is impacted by doing a quick survey or some cursory testing.

If it seems that the issue is isolated to one person, does it follow her to a different workstation if she attempts to log in elsewhere?  If another person logs in to the affected person’s workstation, does the other person experience the same issue?  These questions can help you determine if it might be a training or behavioral issue as opposed to a workstation configuration or connectivity problem.  Answer these questions using the workstation/network/VPN login first to see if any differences appear, and if not, go through the questions again using the application-specific login in cases where you are not using a single sign-on configuration.

If the issue seems widespread, especially in a group with similar connectivity requirements, try eliminating or changing the connectivity requirements to see if that makes a difference.  For example, if users who connect across a VPN are affected, is the same behavior experienced by users who are in-house or by someone trying the function from within the data center?  You may need to strip down all of the pieces of connectivity—VPN, network, internet, etc.—and add them back one at a time to see if any of these elements make the difference.

In my next blog, I will discuss the WHAT and HOW of troubleshooting technical problems.

Jill Devrick is a Product Solutions Advisor with 3M Health Information Systems.

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