Well-functioning systems can save us time, enhance collaboration, and boost productivity. However, we must acknowledge that systems can also falter, leading to frustration. This week, we faced several system failures, prompting us to reflect on how to effectively address these issues. In this article, we will share five valuable tips on what to do when your systems break down and how to resolve these problems effectively.

Step One: Diagnose the Problem

Step number one is to diagnose the problem. If there’s something that we can actually resolve by ourselves, something we didn’t understand or a setting that we can change, then we should do that. So firstly, we want to check documentation. We might want to Google the problem. It’s quite likely that someone else has had the same problem and may have resolved it. There are lots of websites. Stack Overflow is really good. 

YouTube can be helpful for tutorials on how to fix things, and some generous people share their fixes in blog posts and other formats. Also, check out community forums. So often, tech providers have Facebook community groups or their own platforms and forums where people discuss things that are happening. It’s quite likely that you might find a resolution in there. And what that means is then you don’t have to reach out to someone and bother someone else or blame someone else for a problem that you can resolve yourself.

Step Two: Gather Evidence

Step two is to gather evidence. So along the way, while you’re diagnosing the problem, make sure that you’re copying downlinks, copying down key pieces of information, maybe taking screenshots along the way. For bonus points, why don’t you take a screen video? A good tool for this is called Loom. It can be installed as a browser extension, and then you can take really quick screen videos.

 In a couple of clicks, you can share the link as it’s uploaded onto Loom, and you can share that with whoever needs to support you in resolving your problem. Extra points there. It can really impress the support person and be able to visually show them what’s going on in a much easier way than just some words, which might not give them as much information as they might need.

Step Three: Figure Out Who to Talk With

Step number three is to figure out who you need to speak to. So if it’s not your problem, we need to figure out whose problem it is. Now, if you’re working with systems, it might be an integration issue. It can be a little bit harder to know. Is this an issue with the product itself or an issue with a product from someone else? It might be an integration tool or something else along the way. So try and determine that. If you’re not sure, you can reach out to multiple support people. It’s a little bit hard to loop everyone in, but you might be able to make some more progress quickly if you hit up a few different people.

Step Four: Start the Conversation

Step number four is then to start the conversation, reach out to support, and come armed with the evidence that we collected before the links, the videos, and screenshots, and present that all to them. We would encourage you to be polite but firm as well and be really clear on what the problem is. Be proactive as well, and you’re doing that as you gather the evidence. You may need to follow up every few days as well to see how it’s progressing. We usually like to ask for an ETA, if not for a resolution, at least for knowing when they’re going to contact me so that the communication lines remain open and things keep progressing.

Step Five: Get the Resolution

Then step five is to get the resolution. So we want to be working together with the provider, and in doing that, you’re helping them to create a better product. And you’re potentially helping a whole lot of other people, other customers or potential clients and customers, as well. So you can reinforce to them that this is actually for the greater good. It’s not just for you, but you’re helping the whole community.

 And once you’ve done that, ask them to add it to their documentation so that it makes it easier for someone down the line as well. 
These five steps can guide you through the process of handling system failures effectively: diagnose the problem, gather evidence, identify the responsible party, initiate the conversation, and achieve a resolution. Remember that addressing system issues is not just about fixing your problem but also about improving the system for everyone’s benefit. So, stay proactive, be persistent, and help build better systems for the future.


To learn more about how I can help you streamline your organisation:

1. Grab a free copy of the free 18 Epic Solutions guide

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2. Join our DIGITAL FORWARD PROGRAM and transformation your organisation

If you know you need to transform online: I'm working with a few leaders for the next 8 weeks to help them get clarity with their digital strategy to save thousands of hours over $50K in the next year. If you'd like to start this month, shoot me an email with the word FORWARD, and I'll get you all the details.

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