Errors experienced by users can come from all sorts of places: glitches in the software, malfunctioning hardware, incompatibilities among hardware devices and software packages, network devices, outsourced services, security features, the documentation or training materials issued to users, and even the policies and procedures that govern the workflows. As you will see, there are many reasons to create and maintain a known error database, and this feature will benefit both your IT help desk and your users.
What is a Known Error Database?
A known error database (KEDB) is a database that describes all of the known issues within the overall systems. It describes the situations in which these issues appear, and when possible, it offers a workaround that will get the user around the problem and back to productive work.
This database also becomes part of the overall Problem Management Database, where IT can go to identify and prioritize problems that need permanent resolutions. Workarounds are only temporary fixes so that work can continue until problems are inevitably resolved. The known error database should include screenshots of the issues, as well as the text of error messages, and describes the issue from the point of view of the user.
How a Known Error Database Helps Users
Users are only concerned with resolving their own problems and getting on with business. A known error database means that when they call the help desk, a resolution is fast and easy to find. Usually, once the user has a workaround, they won’t have to call back into the help desk if it happens again. They can simply re-perform the workaround and be back to work faster the next time it happens.
How a Known Error Database Helps the Help Desk
Benefits to the help desk are numerous. A known error database means that they don’t have to find a workaround every time a particular issue rears its ugly head. The workaround is already conveniently noted in the database. Additionally, it means that all of the help desk workers are able to offer consistent solutions to all of the users that encounter the problem, and problems that appear frequently are noticed so that IT can give them a higher priority for a permanent fix.
Most importantly, offering a safe, proven workaround for known problems means that users and/or help desk workers don’t develop workarounds that are dangerous or unauthorized. Some workarounds might get around the problem, but introduce much worse problems — such as disabling antivirus software to get around an error message when downloading.
Is the Known Error Database Part of the Overall Knowledge Database?
Common practice is that the knowledge base is reserved for permanent issues, while the known error database includes temporary problems to which a permanent solution will eventually be developed. Having a separate database for known errors means that the knowledge base doesn’t have to be purged as frequently.
It is, however, advisable to include the known error database within the problem management database. Also, in order for it to be effective, it needs to be monitored. Use help desk software that enables workers to log problems that were resolved with workarounds listed in the database, as well as the number of problems that are reported with no mention in the database.