Posted on October 18th, 2008
An Oracle financial report normally completes within 15 minutes (the measured condition). Today it is taking 45 minutes to complete.
The object is the Oracle financial report (it’s helpful to be specific – let’s call it report FIN001). The deviation is that it is taking 30 minutes longer than usual to complete.
This would be written as:
Oracle financials report FIN001 taking extra 30 minutes to run
- Report stuck
- Financials not working
- Report is slow
- Oracle is taking too long
- Object: “What part of Oracle are you using?”
- Object: “Which Oracle form is it?”
- Deviation: “How long does it normally take?” (identifying expected condition)
- Deviation: “How long is it taking today?”
The benefits of describing the fault using object-deviation are manifold:
- The description is specific enough to begin clear incident resolution activities. With the object-deviation description, a technical staff member is likely to first check Oracle Financials, check the host on which it’s running for load, check the job scheduler to see if FIN001 is running and check the data FIN001 is using. Because the deviation has only been reported for FIN001, it also services as a point of different for the ‘distinctions’ exercise in Kepner Tregoe.
The technical staff member doesn’t go on a goose chase, for example checking the server on which Oracle Financials is running (although this may be a valid activity after other more likely sources are ruled out), checking disk space etc.
- Mean time to resolution is reduced and the customer is up and running more quickly. Because the technical staff member has a clear description, resolution activities are more focussed, meaning the cause (and workaround) are applied quicker
- Lower missclassification rate. Because the object is known, it becomes easier to classify the service and/or configuration item. This seems like a very general or vague benefit, but it goes back to the old principle of garbage in, garbage out. How reliable is your reporting or trend analysis information?
- Easier trend analysis. Because symptomatically related service calls are recorded with similar descriptions, it becomes easier to spot and verify trends of faults
- Easier error matching. Because problems are described in object-deviation format, it is easier to search problems for the deviation reported in the fault to see if there is a workaround
The counter argument to describing faults in object-deviation format at first point of contact with the Service Desk is that the description should use the customer’s words and language. That is, by using object-deviation format, the specification of the fault will use terms unfamiliar to the customer.
There is a false assumption here – that the fault cannot be described in both customer langugage and object-deviation format at the same time. It is quite easy to do both. Here are some examples;
Object deviation example 1
The customer calls the service desk to report that his email is not working. At first glance, this could be logged as;
- Email not working
- Email not being received
- Can’t get email
- Object: “Which email program are you using?”
- Object: “Is that on Windows or a Mac?”
- Deviation: “What happens when you click ‘Get Mail’?”
- Deviation: “Can you tell me the error message?”
Thunderbird on Mac shows error “Connection refused to company.com” when ‘Get Mail’ is clicked
Object deviation example 2
The customer calls the service desk to report that their fan is noisy. Again this could be reported in a number of (non-specific) ways;
- Noisy fan
- Computer is noisy
- Fan is overworked
Again, by asking some simple questions we can really start to be specific about the object and the deviation.
- Object: “What does the sound on the computer sound like?”
- Object: “What type of computer is it?”
- Deviation: “When does the sound start?”
- Deviation: “Does it normally do this?”
Generic Computer Model 999 has noisy fan for 30 seconds on startup