Presenting the Universal Troubleshooting Process course to your consultants is a relatively easy and cost effective way to significantly boost the perception of your consultants' competence and your commitment to the client.
The Universal Troubleshooting Process can help you place consultants with superior design and technical problem solving performance, who are faster learners and more able to compensate for minor weaknesses in non-core technical knowledge.
A large portion of the creation of a new computer program or web application is debugging. Despite the occasional claim of "zero defect programming", my experience is that even the best designed and coded programs contain bugs which must be fixed before user exposure. The speed and accuracy of your consultants' debugging activities determines the promptness of rollout and the quality of the program. Similarly, troubleshooting is a big part of the design of networks, websites and systems. A great deal of your consultants' performance is dependent on their ability to quickly and accurately solve technical problems.
The trait commonly known as "troubleshooting ability" requires two distinct areas of knowledge:
1. Knowledge of the system under scrutiny.
2. Knowledge of the process of troubleshooting.
Both types of knowledge are necessary. A serious deficiency in either renders the technologist ineffective at troubleshooting, debugging and diagnostic activities, and therefore design activities.
Most technologists are trained in the system under scrutiny. College, tech schools, on the job training and offsite and onsite training courses emphasize the technology of the system under scrutiny.
Contrast this to their training in the process of troubleshooting. They've probably not had a minute of such training. It isn't taught in high school, college, tech schools, or training courses. Any troubleshooting process knowledge your consultants possess was learned in the "school of hard knocks", and is likely incomplete.
When you hear critiques such as "he knows the theory, but he can't apply it", chances are that the person being spoken of is severely deficient in knowledge troubleshooting process. Similarly, "paper MCSE", "he just has book learning", "he just read a book", or "he's smart but he isn't effective on the job" often point to a severe lack of troubleshooting process knowledge. Less severe deficiencies exhibit themselves as "average" performance. If you know a person who knows all the terminology and components, yet doesn't perform as an all star, the likely cause is insufficient knowledge of the troubleshooting process. Once again, because the vast majority never received a minute of troubleshooting process training, troubleshooting process knowledge is a significant performance bottleneck for most technologists.
The good thing about bottlenecks is that when you improve them, the entire system improves almost proportionally. This means it's likely that two days of troubleshooting process training will greatly outperform two days of training in EJB, advanced C++ or XML.
Another benefit of troubleshooting process knowledge is that it's system and organization independent. This means if you place a consultant well trained in troubleshooting process, he or she will exhibit above average productivity the first day on the job. This creates a great first impression both for your consultant and for you.
I've found that thorough knowledge of troubleshooting process can compensate for minor deficiencies in technical knowledge. This is partially explained by the fact that by using proper process, a technologist can solve a problem in a system whose individual components he or she doesn't understand.
Additionally, the process of technological learning involves troubleshooting. When a technologist fixes a problem in a system, the relationship between the root cause and the effect imparts information about the underlying technology. It's not often discussed, but much knowledge of technology is derived from technological problem solving.
I offer a course called the "Universal Troubleshooting Process", which yields all the benefits I discussed. You can read about the course at the following Internet URLs:
You can license the course and have your trainers train your consultants, or I can teach the course onsite. If your personnel train your consultants, the license fee for the course and materials is between $40.00 and $60.00 per attendee. Most organizations choose to use their own personnel so they can tailor the examples and class exercises to their attendees' needs.
If you have nobody capable of training your consultants, I can teach the course onsite. Cost in this case is $1900 per instruction and travel day, plus lodging, air and ground transportation, and a reasonable per diem. Depending on the location and size of the contract, there may be a charge for travel time.
The course is best taught as a 2 day course, 45% examples and exercise, and 55% lecture. Exercises can be either hands-on using the same technology and systems the attendees use in their work, or the exercises can be presented as a simulation, where half the class "simulates" the system under scrutiny and the other half "simulates" the troubleshooter. Naturally, the halves take turns in these roles.
In summary, the Universal Troubleshooting Process can help you place consultants with superior design and technical problem solving performance, who are faster learners and more able to compensate for minor weaknesses in non-core technical knowledge. Presenting this course to your consultants is a relatively easy and cost effective way to significantly boost the perception of your consultants' competence and your commitment to the client.
If you have any questions at all, please email me and I'll answer them.
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