By Dale Isip

In 2020, the number of U.S. workers in the tech sector consisted of an estimated 5.2 million, with more that 6 million expected to be in the field by 2030. The number of U.S. workers in IT support is a smaller slice of this figure, but still a significant amount – with over 740,000 workers expected by 2030.

Whether or not you work in technology, though — let alone at an IT helpdesk — there are certain related skills that can be applied in any position. Among these skills is troubleshooting, the practice of figuring out what a problem is, and eventually finding a solution. The following is a guide to help you improve your troubleshooting abilities, and how to apply these skills to work-related issues.

From Identifying to Testing

The start of the troubleshooting process involves identifying a problem. For example, you might have a balance that doesn’t add up if you are an accountant, or a set of hiring standards that could be improved in HR. Look at all aspects of your business that are affected by the problem. From this, you can break up the work process into parts to find out where and when issues are arising.

You can then begin the research stage of the process. In IT troubleshooting, previous issues are researched in other systems – because almost no issue is completely unique. In the same sense, you can look for similar cases of work-related issues online in any field.

With enough research, you can develop a theory as to what has gone wrong. Then test your theory by changing one aspect of the work process at a time. This will help you get to the essential causes of any issue – and is the start of the solution process.

Plan and Execute

If you have identified the root cause of your work issue, you can start to develop a plan to solve it. This involves creating a specific plan of action based on your findings in the theory-testing process. Consult experienced professionals, libraries, and resources from your field to help you create such a solution.

At this point, you can test your solution on a smaller scale. Like the breakdown of the work process in the identification stage, you can experiment with potential solutions by implementing them in bits and pieces. When the potential solutions start to work, start implementing them. Check their performance in stages – this will help identify potential new issues.

Review and Document 

You will want to check the solution more than once to see if it works – and can hold up in practice. If it does, make sure to keep a record of the solution for future implementation. Since your co-workers may face a similar issue in the future, documentation is the important final step in troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting skills are not just for technology, they can be applied in almost any professional situation. From identification to documentation, troubleshooting practices can help bring tested solutions to a variety of work issues.