IS/IS NOT Solving “Unsolvable” Problems

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Presented by Mr Richard Browne, Senior ITSM Consultant, CloudFX at ISS' inaugural ITSM CoP on 21 November 2013

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IS/IS NOT Solving “Unsolvable” Problems

  1. 1. IS/IS NOT – Solving “unsolvable” Problems Speaker Ric Browne : CloudFX Senior ITSM Consultant 21 November 2013
  2. 2. Welcome to Appendix C: Kepner and Tregoe Defining the Problem - Problem Statement Describing the Problem with regard to Identity, Location, Timing and Size - Problem Specification (IS/IS NOT in What, Where, When, Extent format) Establishing Possible Causes - Identify Possible Causes using distinctions and changes Testing the Most Probable Cause - Evaluate Possible Causes Verifying the True Cause - Confirm True Cause (Facts, Observation, Research, Results)
  3. 3. Process Quotes “Freedom is greatest when the ground rules are clear” “Process is a wise man’s guide and a fool’s bible” “I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process” Oprah Winfrey “You can’t process me with an ordinary brain” Charlie Sheen
  4. 4. Defining the Problem Because the investigation is based on the definition of the problem, this definition has to state precisely which deviation(s) from the agreed service levels have occurred. Often, during the definition of a problem, the most likely cause is already indicated. Take care not to jump to conclusions, which can guide the investigation in the wrong direction from the beginning. In practice, problem definition is often a difficult task because of a complicated IT Infrastructure and non-transparent agreements on service levels. ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  5. 5. Defining the Problem Problem : “Production Server running Slow” - Ongoing 3 weeks intermittently Unsolvable : Analysis Inconclusive (working on wrong problem) Real Problem Statement “License Database response is slow over lunchtime” – Solved 30 minutes Key Takeaway : a well formed problem statement is a problem half solved
  6. 6. Describing the Problem The following aspects are used to describe the problem, i.e. what the problem IS: Identity. Which part does not function well? What is the problem? Location. Where does the problem occur? Time. When did the problem start to occur? How frequently has the problem occurred? Size. What is the size of the problem? How many parts are affected? ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  7. 7. Describing the Problem ….cont. The ‘IS’ situation is determined by the answers to these question. The next step is to investigate which similar parts in a similar environment are functioning properly. With this, an answer is formulated to the question ‘What COULD BE but IS NOT?’ (Which parts could be showing the same problem but do not?) IS IS NOT WHAT WHERE WHEN EXTENT It is then possible you search effectively for relevant differences in both situations. Furthermore, past changes, which could be the cause of these differences, can be identified. ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  8. 8. Describing the Problem (IS/IS NOT) Problem : “Login takes 35 minutes” – Ongoing : 8 months constant and increasing Unsolvable : Not reported for 7 months, Information not shared between all teams Real Cause : Novell Client not up to date causing contention with NT Servers – Solved 2 hours Key Takeaway : Gather Resources together and make the process visible
  9. 9. Establishing Possible Causes The list of differences and changes mentioned above most likely hold the cause of the problem so possible causes can be extracted from this list. ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  10. 10. Establishing Possible Causes Problem : “NT4 Servers unable to communicate from new LAN” – Ongoing : 10 weeks Unsolvable : Stopped looking – Continue migration project and delay analysis
  11. 11. Network Diagram NEW VLAN PROD VLAN IP 176.3.7.0 IP 125.55.158.0 GW3 176.3.7.254 GW1 125.55.158.254 VMS SERVER NEW NET CORE BLOCK NET CORE BLOCK OPS VLAN GW2 125.55.154.254 IP 125.55.154.0
  12. 12. Establishing Possible Causes Problem : “NT4 Servers unable to communicate from new LAN” – Ongoing : 10 weeks Unsolvable : Stopped looking – Continue migration project and delay analysis Real Cause : Older version TIBCO licence is IP sensitive – Solved 3 days Key Takeaway : Weird stuff happens – trust your instincts
  13. 13. Testing the Most Probable Cause Each possible cause needs to be assessed to determine whether it could be the cause of all symptoms of the problem. ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  14. 14. Testing the Most Probable Cause Problem : “Online betting database response timing out” – Ongoing : 18 months randomly Unsolvable : Only considering 1 possible cause ignoring the data – high jacking process for another agenda
  15. 15. 0000 TIME 2400 Date vs Time 5 Apr 2005 DATE 22 Sep 2006
  16. 16. Testing the Most Probable Cause Problem : “Online betting database response timing out” – Ongoing : 18 months randomly Unsolvable : Only considering 1 possible cause ignoring the data – high jacking process for another agenda Real Cause : Tenanted Test database slowing down response – Solved 6 weeks Key Takeaway : when Timing is key, find the pattern, find the cause
  17. 17. Verifying the True Cause The remaining possible causes have to be verified as being the source of the problem. This can only be done by proving this in one way or another – for example by implementing a change or replacing a part. Address the possible causes that can be verified quickly and simply first. ITIL v3 Service Operations Page 201
  18. 18. Verifying the True Cause Problem : “Capital City Mortgage Cheque Printers will not print” – Ongoing : 3 days continuous Unsolvable : Limited knowledge of legacy system with all causes exhausted – process of elimination completed Real Cause : Signature file had inexplicably grown in size – Solved 5 hours, verified 2 hours Key Takeaway : Think Beyond The Fix – avoid creating new problems
  19. 19. Questions? Key Takeaway : Know your Process Let the Process be your Guide Have FUN Don’t be Afraid to NOT be Normal

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