Below is the first half of our A - Z of SharePoint solution support, giving you an insight into how world-class support can drive the success of an enterprise technology solution.
Unily delivers a comprehensive support plan inclusively with your subscription and this is just a small look at how we ensure that your Intranet is always delivering for you.
A good support team doesn’t just fix SharePoint bugs and issues, they also advise clients on their server and SharePoint configurations. Working closely with development teams to understand custom solutions, they can give advice to help increase user experience and productivity.
While not the only priority for support, this does make up a large portion of what they do. Whether the issue is code related, or down to server configuration, resolving client issues quickly and effectively is essential to the role.
A diverse and effective support team should also be able to handle change requests. With deep technical knowledge of custom solutions, and a strong understanding of the underlying technologies, clients could request anything from whole new web parts and features, right down to minor modifications necessary to increase the value of existing functionality.
A seasoned support desk must have SharePoint and .Net development skills, providing the ability to quickly resolve client issues, no matter the cause.
Support doesn’t just have to be about supporting a custom solution, it can be supporting entire environments. This can range from small single server solutions, to large environments with multiple: WFE (Web Front End), application, database and OWA (Office Web App) servers. It can also extend to setup and maintenance of domains and AD (Active Directory).
First Line, Second Line and Third Line
A structured and ordered approach to solution support is essential in escalating issues based on a number of factors such as urgency and complexity. This can be tiered into three levels:
First line – this is the first response to a client, aiming to answer queries and advise on quick resolutions to minor issues.
Second Line – if a client’s issue or query cannot be answered with a response from first line, second line will look deeper into the issue investigating things like SharePoint configuration and settings to achieve a resolution.
Third line – a support ticket will be assigned to third line support when it needs looking into in even greater depth. This can mean changes to the code or investigating Intranet and servers infrastructure.
Go to guys
The support team must be seen both internally and externally as the go to guys. When someone needs assistance on anything, whether it be fixing issues, explain how things work or helping to set up dev, QA and UAT environments, support should have knowledge and skills in equal measure.
A help desk system is just a way of saying that support teams must have a solution in place in order for them to track, manage and monitor all support queries. This system becomes a knowledge repository full of useful information around previous issues and solutions developed, building a knowledge pool of best practices and hot fixes. In addition this system documents support progress against different queries, and that means better collaboration when colleagues are bought in to assist in any support case.
Due to the need to support client solutions thoroughly, support teams not only have solution knowledge, but should also have a strong knowledge of client information. This could be access details, site and environment configuration details, and information regarding previous support issues. Having this information makes work more efficient and reinforces the value that support recognises in their client relationships.
Using multiple environments (i.e. dev, QA and live) to try to compare configuration and solutions to find what may be causing issues. We also use TFS (Team Foundation Server) to manage versions of our code this way if an issue arises from a specific date we can compare the differences in the code from before and after to see what changes have been made.
Each member of any SharePoint solution support team must have great knowledge of the platform, beyond just the most current version. In addition they should be committed to delivering the knowledge they build through their support experiences to their colleagues, to help build on team best practices. This ensures that an expert support team continues to remain expert.
Logging is essential to effective solution support. Windows event logs and SharePoint logs are an essential tool in discovering issues quickly, but logging your own steps, actions and results is equally essential to a speedy resolution.
Great support is a lot more than responding to issues. Constantly monitoring client environments massively increases the chances of catching issues before they ever become an issue and that is where we set the bar!
I hope you found the first half of the A-Z of SharePoint solution support interesting. Part two is round the corner so stay tuned!
Glen Chambers 3 Oct
Hannah Unsworth 22 Sep
Chris Saville 15 Sep
Allison Quinn 30 Aug
Glen Chambers 25 Aug