At one time or another, we all need a little help. When you’re knee-deep in Production and you run into a Problem, a little panic is unavoidable. Having a military background, I’ve been taught that the best way to deal with inevitable panic is preparation. What I’m describing in this blog aren't tips around dealing with the support team on the phone - that’s another blog - but what you can do before you call them.
Tip #1: plan to fail
You’re going to have a problem with your system at some time or another. Do you have a clear path for dealing with problems? Is it written down? Does everyone on the team know where that information lives? Is it up to date? Remember, these things tend to happen late at night or early in the morning. There’s nothing worse than getting a call at 2:00 in the morning and not having access to the material you need to solve a problem. Develop a plan and put it on a website where you can reach it when you RAS in from home.
Tip #2: Do your homework
No matter how you measure it, support calls are expensive. Before you make that call, make sure you’ve checked Books online (use this search tool) and do a “Live” search to see if that problem has already been solved. Sure, there are times when you don’t have time for all that, but even if you do make the call, start someone else looking up the information. That way it’s a race to the answer, which is what you’re after anyway.
Tip #3: Define the problem
Don’t make the support technician play “20 Questions” to help you. Before you call, make a bullet list of at least these three areas (yes, really write them down):
I. What the symptoms are
II. What the system configuration is now, and what changed (something has always changed)
III. What you’ve done so far to fix it
Tip #4: Follow best practices
The best way to deal with a problem is not to have it. If you’ll read through and follow the best practices in your area, it’s less likely you’ll have the problem in the first place, and even if you do, it will make supporting you easier. Don't know where they are? Here's a start, for SQL Server anyway.