In the business of managed services, time is always of the essence. Companies rely on their technology to be successful, so when something stops working it affects the bottom line.

Providing efficient support involves many factors, but the most important is isolating the root cause of the problem. The sooner you determine the root cause, the sooner you can implement a solution and get people back to work. Of course this requires knowledge and relevant experience… but it also requires disciplined triage. Even the smartest, most knowledgeable technicians will waste countless hours troubleshooting a problem if they take the wrong steps.

One of the most common pitfalls is misidentifying the root cause of a problem based on similar situations observed in the past. If the symptoms reported match those of a common problem, many often prescribe a solution before actually identifying the cause. This might work out just fine sometimes, or even most of the time, but when it doesn’t things go downhill quickly. What starts out as one problem snowballs into several and untangling the mess can be very time consuming.

The most effective way to isolate the cause of a problem is to use the rule of halves. The idea here, as is implied by the name, is to take steps that eliminate half of your potential causes so you can narrow your focus. A good basic example of this is determining whether a technical problem is caused by software or hardware. Of course you won’t always be able to split it right down the middle, but the essential process of elimination still applies. By repeating this process you can more quickly identify the root cause and identify the correct solution.

This rule of halves may seem somewhat obvious but it often isn’t followed. High performing teams need to be disciplined in their approach so they can provide solutions that solve the problem and get customers back to work.