Using SGRT as a Customer Relationship offering.

A short while ago I was involved in the most interesting SGRT facilitation of my career so far – interesting because Sun had been invited to provide a Rational Troubleshooting facilitation even though our equipment was not involved in the root cause of the customer problems.  The account manager in Sun is a huge supporter of this process, and offered our services to the customer to help them manage a very gnarly problem. The customer (to whom I'd presented SGRT a couple of years earlier) was interested and I volunteered.

We did have Sun equipment in the customer site, and it was having problems, and it had been identified that the Sun equipment was a victim of a much more subtle problem to do with the links between two computer sites. The customer was hugely advanced in their understanding of the problem, and the answer to “Where on the object” was really clear. They had excellent "what" data, and acknowledged that there was no chance of getting the lifecycle information as the problem occurred 100 times during terabytes of data transfer over days of full production usage.

Having all the suppliers in one room, providing their view of the problem was enlightening to all – some suppliers had a view of the application, some of the underlying network infrastructure and others had the physical rack and cable view.

There was no resolution to the problem identified during the facilitation – many actions to take and more importantly many actions that no longer needed taking as those actions were not essential to the resolution of the problem. The possible causes appeared to be centered on one supplier's hardware not doing quite what it should, so the lens of attention was focused tightly on that equipment.

Oh, and the very nice man from IBM clearly recognised what troubleshooting method I was using and came up with some marvelously incisive questions to forward our understanding of the symptoms still further. It felt really good to have a peer supplier in the room recognise the troubleshooting process we were using and actively engage in it.

For me the key learning points were;

  • the reinforcement that getting the right people in the room is not enough – following a structured analytic technique saved us all time, made the problem very clear and took the audience with the technical staff so that everyone understood by the end of the day what the issues were. Even I understood them.
  • that the capability of SGRT can be used as a Customer Relationship offering to assist our customers with the management of problems (Incidents in ITIL language).

For the End-to-End implementation of KT-Resolve / SGRT / [whatever the process is known by in the client company] throughout the computer industry to fully succeed we need customers to call for the use of a rational approach. It should no longer be a matter of serial trial fixes tacking toward a lucky break - big companies concentrate on what their customers demand. Sun's customers should demand a rational approach to problem management (and some already do), and Sun now has the capability worldwide to handle problem / incident management in a rational manner.

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