4 steps to troubleshooting (almost) any IT issue


Troubleshooting IT can be… tedious (understatement of the year). End users submit seemingly endless problems ranging from complaints of their Internet being “slow” to forgotten passwords to constant printer pains. What’s your plan of action for the next vague phone call, email request about tech issues, or help desk ticket from a big wig who needs his computer fixed… RIGHT NOW?

Worry not! We’ve got several problem-solving steps to follow that’ll help ease the stress of solving nearly any IT issue:

Step 1: What exactly is the problem?

Getting to the bottom of a computer issue can sometimes feel like playing 20 questions, so it’s crucial to ask the right questions first if you want to discover the root problem quickly.

  • If you’re talking to someone or emailing with them, listen or read carefully and take notes (mental or otherwise). When they’re done, proceed with questions that either have a yes/no answer or can be answered quantifiably (e.g., “How many times did this happen?”). This approach can move things along and cut down on ambiguous responses.
  • What should you ask? The key is to find out the “who, what, and when” of the problem. Does the issue affect just one person or many people? Did it occur right after a significant event on the computer or the network? There are specific questions you can ask to drill down beneath general statements like “I can’t send email.” Are they using a PC or mobile device? Is the PC power on? Are they able to open their e-mail client? Can they send or receive email, or both?
  • Once you’ve got a grasp on the issue, try repeating your understanding of the problem so that you’re both on the same page as to what’s wrong. It’s a good idea to use some the same language they used and avoid using complex tech terminolgy. Ideally, this will help remove potential confusion related to the issue.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what the issue is all about, you can look into technical details that could point you toward to a solution.

How can you answer the most common IT questions?

2) Gather more details, eliminate variables