Practical problem solving tips

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2016 Marval Software Limited Practical Problem Solving Tips 2016 Marval Software Limited Introduction This slide set is designed to help us become more effective in problem analysis and problem solving It will: Look at some common approaches Present some interesting challenges to overcome Provide pragmatic, useable tips and techniques to help us refresh and improve our problem analysis and problem solving skills 2016 Marval Software Limited Question What is a Problem? 2016 Marval Software Limited Answer A discrepancy between what is and what should be 2016 Marval Software Limited Types of problem solving Fire fighting Fishbone diagrams Mind mapping Analytical Creative Brainstorming Teamwork 2016 Marval Software Limited Some benefits The more often we follow a consistent approach 2016 Marval Software Limited The 4 Ps of problem solving Patience Practice Persistence Perseverance Plus a good dose of Common Sense 2016 Marval Software Limited Current situation? Problems often take too long to identify and solve? We jump straight in with a solution without assessing the problem properly? Too much time spent fire-fighting? Inconsistent approach? No formal and documented approach/process? Go for the complex solution and ignore the obvious one? 2016 Marval Software Limited If only we KNEW what we KNOW 88% of organisational knowledge is currently not searchable or retrievable Up to 20% of our time is spent finding answers to problems that have already been solved As much as 12% of our time is spent looking for sources of information - Delphi Group 2016 Marval Software Limited The SIX key questions What? Where? When? How? Why? Who? I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I know: Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who. Rudyard Kipling (The Just So stories) 2016 Marval Software Limited Known barriers to effective decision-making Indecision Stalling Overreacting Vacillating Half measures Making assumptions 2016 Marval Software Limited Problem solving on the phone Simple guidelines Requires a well-structured approach Talk to customers in business language Dont expect them to be an expert in IT Remember they are an expert in their field Ensure you understand their issue Ask questions to confirm your understanding Re-state the problem for clarification Document what they are saying 2016 Marval Software Limited Problem solving on the phone Simple guidelines NEVER make assumptions Be empathic Think before you speak - customer perception Advise the customer YOU cannot immediately solve their problem - if this is true Ensure the customer feels confident that the team will look after their interests and keep them informed Be professional at all times (not matter what the provocation!) 2016 Marval Software Limited Influences on group decisions Peer pressure: Members are reluctant to go against the majority viewpoint Critical reasoning stifled, leading to wrong decisions being made - group think Successful groups are over confident and so take riskier decisions Majority view: Groups make more extreme decisions than each individual's decisions Group polarisation Pulling your weight: Individuals put in less effort into achieving decisions than other members - social loafing 2016 Marval Software Limited Find the best solution for the situation Don't view any alternative as the perfect solution. If there were such a thing, there probably wouldn't be a problem in the first place. Suspend judgment and criticism when first collecting ideas Involve a trusted colleague Is there something you missed? Do they see a problem with your approach /solution? Compromise Consider compromise when you have a full grasp of the problem and your alternatives Competing solutions may yield a hybrid solution. 2016 Marval Software Limited Knowing when to escalate is essential Many IT specialists mistakenly believe that escalating a problem is an admission of incompetence, so they violate established escalation guidelines. 2016 Marval Software Limited Business impact assignment You need an agreed business impact, urgency and priority assignment approach that ensures business critical issues are handled first Ensure you have a clear incident process and procedure in place. This will ensure a structured approach is followed when you are under pressure 2016 Marval Software Limited Keep customers informed Its imperative that the correct people are kept informed Customers experience major frustration when they have to wait for a status update Managing customer expectation is the key to success Customers appreciate knowing whats been done, the current status of their problem and when to expect a resolution Dont forget about your own management team they wont like to be embarrassed 2016 Marval Software Limited Proactive problem analysis & trending We never seem to make the time to be proactive, but always have the time to be reactive Dr Don Page The Too Busy Syndrome 2016 Marval Software Limited Proactive problem analysis & trending Identify and resolve problems before new Incidents occur Identify potential problems quicker Verify implemented improvements have been successful: Incidents are being solved faster The same incidents and problems are not re-occurring 2016 Marval Software Limited Questions to drive analysis Why is it necessary? When should it be done (e.g. now, after hours, weekly)? Where is the information for analysis located? Who should do it? What should be done? How should it be done? How should it be documented? Who should we inform and when? How should we inform others? 2016 Marval Software Limited Analysis should identify/highlight Request types having the biggest business impact Request types occurring the most often (and who experiences them most) Where requests are occurring When requests are occurring Who/what is experiencing the most requests Request types taking up staff time the most Request types taking the longest time to turn around If service improvements have been successful Customer training needs 2016 Marval Software Limited Trending focuses Service affected Reported symptom Affect configuration item(s) (Optional) Identified root cause Resolution applied Service agreement used (Optional) Actual individual time spent Elapsed time spent Location Business impact Cost/revenue impact (Optional) Customer satisfaction Ensure all incidents are classified with A ROOT CAUSE and RESOLUTION code 2016 Marval Software Limited Proactive perception analysis Proactive perception analysis should primarily focus on: Requests not meeting agreed targets Re-scheduled requests Poor customer satisfaction Incidents being bounced around Re-opened requests 2016 Marval Software Limited Things we can do to save time in problem solving Record/document everything we do Share knowledge and communicate better Provide diagnostic scripts, checklists and staff skills matrix Have accurate configuration management database (CMDB) Improved testing and release process Enter detailed classification into incident records Provide up-to-date processes and procedures Perform regular analysis and link to KPIs Spend more time planning and evaluating risks Develop knowledge base with access to known errors, solutions and workarounds 2016 Marval Software Limited Top tip: ask "Why?" five times Ask "Why" a problem is occurring - and then ask "Why" four more times. For example... 1. Why has the machine stopped? A fuse blew because of an overload 2. Why was there an overload? There wasn't enough lubrication for the bearings 3. Why wasn't there enough lubrication? The pump wasn't pumping enough 4. Why wasn't lubricant being pumped? The pump shaft was vibrating as a result of abrasion 5. Why was there abrasion? There was no filter, allowing chips of material into the pump Installation of a filter solves this problem From "What a Great Idea" by Chic Thompson 2016 Marval Software Limited The top 10 common mistakes we make Making quick assumptions (an assumption is something that is accepted as true without verification) Not collecting/having/being given the facts Being supplied with inaccurate/incomplete information Not properly evaluating/reproducing the condition Pressure from customer/business to deliver NOW Agreeing a time frame without understanding the problem, impact, risks and resources required Trying to fix things beyond our skillset Not escalating a request early enough Not involving the right people Not keeping the customer/business informed 200 IT staff surveyed 2016 Marval Software Limited Summary With a well-defined problem analysis and problem solving process in place, you will realise major business benefits: Repetitive problems solved permanently Reduction in the number of incidents and problems Minimised business impact Shared knowledge Reduced resolution time Improved productivity Confidence in IT improved/maintained 2016 Marval Software Limited About Marval Marval offers a customer-centric approach to IT service management (ITSM), encompassing ITSM software, consultancy and education People Technology Process 2016 Marval Software Limited 2016 Marval Software Limited Thanks for watching