The MBA Guide to IT

Episode 31 - How do I triage system instability?

Everything’s going wrong.  The printers won’t print.  The scanners won’t scan.  The firewalls won’t fire.  How do I triage system instability?

When everything is going wrong, it can be hard to figure out what to fix first.  This is where triage comes in.

Triage is sort of the opposite of a roadmap.  Stabilize the patient today.  Manage their cholesterol later.

In IT this can mean figure out why systems are failing and then build a step-by-step plan to recovery.  It also means deciding not to work on lesser problems today.

You’ll want to start by making a list of complaints.  These aren’t trivial complaints.  These are real issues where equipment failures are preventing people from getting work done.

The good news is this can be a pretty easy list to put together if people are vocal enough.  Be thorough.  The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but don’t miss the issues from less vocal users.

As you dig in, you’ll probably hear things such as my computer crashes, my email isn’t working, the server crashes, I can’t get to the internet, or everything is just sluggish.  Rank these issues and communicate your choices.

As you work the list, figure out why each is happening.  You may find a lot of deferred maintenance, old equipment, obsolete software, and equipment you can’t monitor to even know if it’s working right or not.  There’s a lot going on here that you need to look at.

Figure out a fix. If it’s software, has the support contract lapsed?  Be careful about upgrades.  You may find a maze of interdependencies where you can’t upgrade one thing without upgrading something else first.  These knots can be tricky to untie.

See if the network is designed properly.  Do you have enough bandwidth?  Is the internet service reliable?  Install monitoring software.  And particularly if you have remote offices, make sure you can tell when their network goes down.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about triaging security gaps.

I’m Carter Edmonds with 20Creek.  We solve IT challenges.

Episode #31 – 1/22/2019

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