Practical problem solving tips

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  • 2016 Marval Software Limited

    Practical Problem

    Solving Tips

  • 2016 Marval Software Limited


    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

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    What is a


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    A discrepancy between

    what is and what should be

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    Types of problem solving

    Fire fighting

    Fishbone diagrams

    Mind mapping





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    Some benefits

    The more often we follow a

    consistent approach

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    The 4 Ps of problem solving





    Plus a good dose of

    Common Sense

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    Current situation?

    Problems often take too long to identify and


    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?

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    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

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    The SIX key questions







    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)

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    Known barriers to effective decision-making





    Half measures

    Making assumptions

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    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

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    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!)

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    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

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    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


    Involve a trusted colleague

    Is there something you missed?

    Do they see a problem with your approach /solution?


    Consider compromise when you have a full grasp of the problem

    and your alternatives

    Competing solutions may yield a hybrid solution.

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    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.

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    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


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    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

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    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

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    Proactive problem analysis & trending

    Identify and resolve problems before new Incidents


    Identify potential problems quicker

    Verify implemented improvements have been


    Incidents are being solved faster The same incidents and problems are not


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    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?

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    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

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    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


    Business impact

    Cost/revenue impact (Optional)

    Customer satisfaction

    Ensure all incidents

    are classified with

    A ROOT CAUSE and


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    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

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    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


    Have accurate configuration

    management database


    Improved testing and release


    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    About Marval

    Marval offers a


    approach to IT service

    management (ITSM),

    encompassing ITSM

    software, consultancy

    and education


    Technology Process

  • 2016 Marval Software Limited

  • 2016 Marval Software Limited

    Thanks for watching