As an Information Technology professional I’ve noticed a growing trend lately around a specific skillset, troubleshooting. I’m not just talking about vendors and Customer Support personnel but all professionals working in the Information Technology field. I’ve seen system administrators that just throw up their hands if setup.exe doesn’t finish completely. Likewise I’ve seen network engineers throw up their hands if the configuration guide their following doesn’t match up 100% with the CLI output.
It might be that I’m being too critical… I’ll let you guys tell me if you think so.
I’ve also personally noticed an increased level of reliance on support and maintenance contracts. I personally don’t call a vendor until I’ve thoroughly researched the topic and have educated myself if necessary. Now obviously in a network down or similar critical situation that basic rule goes out the window, but I would hope that myself or the person responsible would have the basic knowledge and training to support the product or system.
Update: Here’s a great video from YouTube – Thank Carl!
Carl Knerr says
I’ve learned that troubleshooting isn’t so much an art as it is a skill. Sure, we in IT can train folks to know a product and thus use documentation, FAQs, etc. to identify the problem.
But being able to walk in cold to a situation and just “know” how to troubleshoot the solution is rare and next to impossible to teach.
When I speak about this, I often refer to a Dilbert cartoon which I think accurately captures this as “The Knack”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmYDgncMhXw
Michael McNamara says
Thanks for the comment Carl!
I really enjoyed the Dilbert video so I included it in the post above.
In general I would agree with you… in that some folks are more inclined while others need to work at it. However, there are some basic concepts that can help frame our troubleshooting approach. Often I hear phrases like “let’s upgrade” to fix a problem. That might be all well and good but it doesn’t explain why it was working in the past and what exactly led it to stop working in the present.
In essence it’s a valid question. The introduction otherwise tells me that you would like to hear oppinions about something else. Although can’t be really answered with a yes or no. Why does it become more visible that troubleshooting skills in IT are lowering? I feel the start of a good forum thread ;-)
It’s definitely a skill which sometimes, sad to say, cannot be taught. Many years ago, I was tasked with training 2 separate people in a technical call centre, troubleshooting users home internet connections and everything in between. The first guy hadn’t had any schooling at all, but was pretty intuitive. The second person had taken a few courses in computers to jump start her career in computers. After one week, the first person was off on his own, taking calls completely by himself. Three weeks later, I’m still trying to train the second person, but the troubleshooting skill just isn’t coming to her. Once I let her spend literally 30 minutes troubleshooting an issue when she knew there was no power to the cable modem. Some people have it, some simply don’t.
Michael McNamara says
I would agree that there is a certain aspect of common sense that a lot of people don’t seem to have. I would also agree that some people have an aptitude for it while for others the dots just don’t line up.
Thanks for the comment!