I encountered the dreaded ‘Outlook has stopped working’ error message last week and was forced to commence investigations into the cause and remedy. The Microsoft website provided a load of suggestions and a Google search offered a vast array of ‘proven solutions’ from amateur IT experts on how to fix the problem. After reading a few and quite honestly becoming increasingly bewildered by the array of tricks, stunts and rebuilds necessary to get back up and running I decided to leave the problem until later whilst I completed a computer programming course!

Meanwhile the issue continued to play on my mind. One of the things I had noticed was that when I launched Outlook it got part way through the send/receive process before it stopped working. A serious dose of logic resulted in the decision to take Outlook offline and do some long-overdue housekeeping by deleting all the trash, spam and ancient items in each email account – it’s amazing how much stuff builds up. I know I should do this regularly but when stuff ain’t broke ……… anyway the logic was correct and without having to uninstall and reinstall the programme, delete apps, remove filters or pay anything to Microsoft it is now working like a dream again. Simple.

All too often it is the simple, easily overlooked or quickly dismissed, issues that cause us problems. In other words, don’t forget the basics.

‘Dad, the printer is not working again’ – followed by ‘is it switched on?’ is another common sequence in our house which generally resolves the issue ……………….

Even in this world of highly technical environments and infrastructure, where one would expect complex and technical issues to occur, actually our organisations continue to be impacted by simple, everyday events. The news is littered with stories of fires, power failures, gas leaks, floods and other non-technical, non-complex events.

Any response or incident management procedures or checklists, should therefore, as any experienced practitioner knows, confirm the need to check the basic elements first.

Beyond that, a good awareness and understanding of anything that has changed recently is also key to quickly identifying potential root causes. So make sure your incident management functions are kept appraised of change activity – yes, you got it, that old chestnut of change control actually adding value really does apply sometimes!

So yes, go and train your incident managers and prepare your IT support technicians with the skills and knowledge to identify, resolve and manage complex issues – you can’t make this stuff up on the spot so knowledge is power. But make sure your procedures and training also recognise the need to check the b******g obvious.

Finally, the only way such roles are judged is how quickly and how effectively the issue is resolved so don’t make assumptions and then you can be sure you will be fixing the right problem.

September 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm
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Category: Crisis Management, Resilience