Old dog learns new trick...

Last week I had the chance to finally sit down with Mark Hayden and Steve White. Steve and Mark are experts on what we call Sun Global Resolution Troubleshooting (SGRT). What is SGRT? Simply, it is Sun's advanced troubleshooting methodology. SGRT is based on the Kepner Tregoe resolve process. SGRT significantly reduces that amount of time our engineers need to solve complex problems.

Why do we have a troubleshooting process? Isn't troubleshooting relatively simple, why have a special process? I am not asking you these questions as much as to show you what most people ask or think when they consider troubleshooting. Troubleshooting and diagnosis is a critical daily function that is performed by our service engineers. Every time we engage with our customers we must put troubleshooting and diagnosis to the test. Most of the problems, the vast majority, are resolved via our knowledge base and the skills of our engineers. However there are always problems, incidents, that are escalated and these incidents are almost always very complex. Is it a problem with storage, operating system, memory, hardware, network, middleware? We are a systems company after all and that means problems can manifest themselves in many different ways. So how do you go about solving a complex problem? You could start by making educated guesses and see if your guess fixes the problem or creates another. Or you could follow a rational thought process that works problems in similar ways to identify the true and root cause of the issue. That is what SGRT does.

How do our customers benefit from SGRT? Let me quote some stats on what we have accomplished:

  • Due to the implementation of SGRT we have reduced the customer wait time, in escalated cases, by over 1200 years per year. Yes that is right 1200 years of waiting for a problem to be solved per year.
  • Average time to solution has decreased by 52% for escalated cases
  • The quality of information transferred between engineers improved significantly
  • Product specific engineers can spend more time resolving the real problem rather then having to keep going back to the customer for more information.
Why am I so excited by this? To tell you the truth, before my meeting with Steve and Mark I didn't have that great of an understanding of SGRT. Yes I knew about how we have been using the methodology and how our solution centers have been leading the way for Sun in the area, but I didn't have any hands on experience with the process. This led me to set up a meeting with Steve and Mark. I wanted them to teach me what they could about SGRT. I expected them to pull out a number of presentations and blast me with knowledge. Instead they did something far more effective. They ran thought a real life scenario with me. They had me read a case study which was filled with facts about a company that was experiencing a particular problem with one of their products. After reading the case study they simply said "OK Dan, what would you do?" I of course used my experience and engineering skills to immediately jump to the answer. I told them a number of things that I would do, from having engineering run additional tests, change some processes, etc. I will spare you all the details but suffice it to say I was completely wrong. We then applied SGRT to the problem and began to use logical reasoning (which I thought that I had done in the first place). After about 30 minutes the problem became absolutely clear. I was convinced and now am a strong supporter of SGRT.

As a side note, the case study we used was from a real company that never solved the problem with their product, spent hundreds of millions trying to fix the issue and eventually went out of business.

So that was my big learning of the week. A methodolgy can make a difference and SGRT is transforming the way we solve the trickiest of problems. For more information on Sun's troubleshooting process read this blog.

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