Troubleshooting in SharePoint: Start simple

Keep SharePoint Support SimpleWhy It Pays To Start Simple With SharePoint Support

Bing! A support ticket has been created.

It’s time to call upon the vast stores of SharePoint knowledge you’ve acquired over the years and flaunt your IT abilities. So, you crack your knuckles, dive head first into the issue and begin pouring through the logs for related errors… but, there aren’t any. The Application Pools and Services seem to be in working order. An IIS reset does nothing.

Head scratching ensues…

This seemed like a quick fix when you first looked at the ticket, so why isn’t it resolved already? Could it be that, in your desire to please the customer with a speedy resolution (and show-off your technical prowess), you were just a bit hasty?

Don’t beat yourself up. It happens to the best of us. But this is why, when troubleshooting issues in SharePoint (or anything for that matter), it pays to start simple.

A SharePoint support request may be very similar to one that you’ve dealt with many times before, and, based on those past experiences, you may think you have an immediate solution. Sure, you could dive right in and attempt the fix that worked last time and maybe it will work. But what if it doesn’t? Then you’ve wasted not only your time, but also your user’s time and they have deadlines to meet… (even if that deadline is being able to head home on time for once.)

Why delve in to the ULS logs when the user is unable to benefit from the full functionality of SharePoint due to a browser compatibility issue? Start at the bottom of the troubleshooting checklist and gather as much information from the user as possible.

Ask questions and gather as much information as you can.

Ensure that any requests for information made to the user are stated clearly without making assumptions about anyone else’s technical know-how. A great place to start is to discover if other users are being affected by the same issue. The next logical step would be to find out whether or not the computer they are accessing SharePoint with is not the source of the problem by gathering details about the workstation.

For example: Are they able to browse other websites? What browser, including version information, are they using? What versions of other Microsoft software, such as Office, are installed? Have there been any recent changes/upgrades to or additions of those programs? Questions like these will also help decide if a software compatibility issue might be the cause of their problem or if it’s originating with their ISP.

Let’s be honest – it’s not going to look good if you spend several hours trying to find a solution only to discover that the user doesn’t have internet access at the moment, or that they just needed to switch to the recommended browser (Internet Explorer).

Then keep gathering information.

More simple, yet integral, information to gather includes the amount of time the issue has been occurring or if a broken feature of SharePoint has ever worked. See if SharePoint is generating any error messages and request the text of the error if they can’t provide a screenshot. This can prevent a lot of time from being wasted even if SharePoint is only generating a generic error. At the very least, it will help narrow down possible causes or, if you’re lucky, pinpoint the root of the problem and its solution.

And don’t forget about permissions. It helps to not only find out what permissions and rights are granted to a user, but also to obtain permission to make changes to someone’s SharePoint site so you can perform tests and attempt to recreate errors. Even if you already have access to their site, ask what areas of the site are available for testing to help prevent possible confusion or complications.

Now that you’ve clarified the issue, it’s time to take action.

The above questions all serve the same purpose, to clarify the issue being experienced by the customer and assist in finding a solution. Obtain a thorough description of the problem from the user and gather as much information as possible from the start. By taking time to do so, you can save even more time while avoiding many potential headaches along the way.

Keep in mind that what may seem obvious to you may not be to the user. Phrase your requests in a way that can be easily understood and answered by anyone, no matter how little technical know-how they have. The question that seems too obvious to ask could be the key to a resolution – so ask it.  Remember to start simple, because even the biggest problems can have a simple solution.

For problems that fall out of the simple range and may be outside of your expertise,’s Administrative Support Services are here to help with hourly support banks that you can keep on retainer for a low buy-in cost. Plus, the hours never expire so you can use them when you need them. Learn more by clicking the link below:

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2015-05-28T08:30:39+00:00 May 28th, 2015|