Woes of a Fleet Support Engineer During a Pandemic

Synopsis

Pandemics such as COVID-19 lead many organizations to request their employees around the world to adapt to work from home (WFH), while attempting to run operations in unaffected regions as efficiently as possible. This is especially true for organizations that have large global transport and logistics operations. Technology such as wearables and handheld smart devices are a crucial part of any such operation today. The upkeep of this technology is heavily dependent on tech support engineers, who are expected to investigate and remediate user queries and potential breakdowns from all over the world. This operation is commonly known as Remote Monitoring and Troubleshooting (RMT).

This article discusses the challenges faced by such support engineers during WFH periods and how the right tool could have solved these problems.

Off-the-Shelf EMM Software (a.k.a MDM) are Failures as RMT Solutions

* EMM – Enterprise Mobility Management * MDM – Mobile Device Management * RMT – Remote Monitoring and Troubleshooting

Due to misinformed decisions of organizations, many support engineers are stuck with off the shelf EMM tools for supporting Remote Monitoring and Troubleshooting (RMT) requests. Unified Endpoint Management(UEM) tools serve the need of tasks such as O.S and application updates, security compliance and lock downs; but miserably fall short when it comes to remote monitoring and troubleshooting.
Why? Because every organization’s uniqueness reflects in their devices, software as well as how they use them. Being able to troubleshoot such devices and applications require bespoke solutions. Such bespoke solutions are not the focus of UEMs, as they don’t focus on offering all the details required for a support engineer to perform RCA (Root Cause Analysis). As a result, they are forced to resort to very cumbersome methods of obtaining the information they need, such as Remote Desktop, or using a mix of their own scripts and dashboards, which are highly insecure and unstable.


Remote Desktop is a Cumbersome Bandwidth Bandit

Due to the lack of information and remote control for troubleshooting, whenever a ticket is opened, support engineers have got used to resorting to remote desktop access to the end device to get the data and control that they need to solve a problem. Remote desktop is heavily dependent on a stable and consistently fast network connection, which is not something that you can expect from someone working from home.


Domestic Data Rates Are Exorbitantly Higher

Organization’s generally opt for unmetered leased lines for their internet connectivity. When support engineers work from home, they are forced to use domestic connections which are metered, and result in sending the operational costs through the roof.


Can’t Look Away for a Second, but You Have To

One of the biggest perks of working from home, is the fact that you get to be around your loved ones. But, support engineers who need to keep their eyes on a terminal or a display are under a lot of tension whenever they are away from it even for a second. At the same time, being away for a short time is not something that can be fully avoided. This is a lose-lose situation for the organization as well the employee. The support engineer faces anxiety of failing to meet SLAs because he/she didn’t see the incident on time and the organization suffers the consequences.

MATRIX24x7 The Solution

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A Tailor Made Solution Vs. Ready Made Software

  • Free yourself from the fixed functionality and rigidity of off the shelf, ready-made applications.
  • Mold the platform to your requirements vs. adapting to it.

A Partner Vs. A Vendor

  • Empathetically driven towards gaining a full understanding of the business and operation prior to solutioning.
  • Access to our best tech and domain experts vs. business sales intermediaries.

This is exactly what MATRIX24x7 is. An RMT platform that can deliver tailor made solutions, and a partner that operates as the CTO of your support operation.

Heshan Perera

Associate Architect / Manager – IoT Platform


Benefits of the Right Remote Monitoring & Troubleshooting (RMT) Solution to IT Support Teams

Synopsis

We are in an age where the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed organizations to adapt to remote working. L1, L2 and L3 support teams are some of the most affected by this change. We discuss why this situation impacts these support teams and how they need to adapt to run like a well-oiled machine, when working remotely.

MATRIX24x7 is an RMT platform that:

  • Helps solve more problems at L1 level.
  • Reduces back and forth communication for problem solving.
  • Enables rapid remediation through custom one-click commands.
  • Reduces time spent on recurring issues through automated troubleshooting.


A Background of L1, L2 and L3

Organizations break down their support team into three layers (L1, L2 and L3) in order to maintain a balance between the cost of operation and service levels. A major driver of this structure is that most support requests can be addressed by resources with very low technical expertise. As a result, the L1, L2 and L3 support teams demonstrate the following characteristics respectively.

Remote Working Aggravates Common Problems at Each Support Layer

  1. Misleading Tickets
    • When L1 encounters a problem outside their script, they communicate the problem to L2 with a ticket.
    • The content of these tickets are misleading to the L2 support team due to lack of information.
    • A lot of correspondence with the end user as well the L1 support engineer is required to resolve these.
    • How Remote Working Aggravates the Problem
    • Remote workers do not have access to the comms facilities available in their office premises.
    • Even when they are available, accessing such solutions remotely is cumbersome.
    • This has a toll on keeping up with SLAs.
    • Better Ticket Accuracy with MATRIX24x7
    • MATRIX24x7 integrates directly with your ticketing system.
    • Automatically adds all the information about a device or software to a ticket with the snapshot of device status at the time issue occurred
    • L2 and L3 support teams can jump start troubleshooting while greatly reducing the need for back and forth communication.
    • Generate tickets to the correct support team, based on the type of issue; thus allowing the quick resolution of issues and increased customer satisfaction.
    • Automated L1 ticket generation based on proactive monitoring of the system.
  2. Lack of Information / Data
    • After tickets are raised, L2 and L3 support teams need to have information at hand that enable them to perform RCA and troubleshoot efficiently.
    • However, most such support teams in the world only have off-the-shelf RMT tools at hand, which provide fixed information and functionality.
    • Certain teams are stuck with UEM (Unified Endpoint Management) software as their RMT solution. Please refer to our article on The Woes of a Fleet Support Engineer During a Pandemic for more details on why UEMs don’t cut it.
    • How Remote Working Aggravates the Problem
    • When teams work from the same location, they have the luxury of leveraging the experience and expertise of their colleagues easily, it is just a case of walking to the desk and talking it out.
    • On the other hand, remote working is far more challenging, where teams struggle to communicate efficiently without visual aids and gestures.
    • Therefore, it is essential to limit back and forth communication to obtain required information to identify the root cause of the problem, so that troubleshooting can commence.
    • In depth / Relevant Data through MATRIX24x7
    • The MATRIX24x7 platform eases and enables organizations to have access to scenario specific parameters critical to the efficiency of their RMT operation.
    • Our RMT experts will analyze your information needs and make them all available through its single portal.
  3. Lack of Control
    • Once a root cause is identified, the next step is to troubleshoot.
    • Off-the-shelf RMT platforms are very limited in terms of the actions that can be taken to remedy a problem.
    • Available methods include sledgehammer techniques such as remote desktop and device restarts that disrupt the operation.
    • As these approaches are disruptive to operations, support engineers are forced to trouble non-tech savvy end users or even worse, deploy tech support engineers to physically visit unattended devices to correct problems.
    • How Remote Working Aggravates the Problem
    • During a pandemic, deploying tech support engineers is an incredibly impractical task with all the lockdowns in motion.
    • Apart from this, maintaining a conversation over domestic network and phone connections becomes difficult due to delays and interference.
    • Granular, Purposeful Control through MATRIX24x7
    • The MATRIX24x7 platform makes adding custom configurations and commands a breeze.
    • Our RMT expert team will work with your teams to understand their wishlist in terms of remote control and configurability and work towards enabling such functionality through the platform.
  4. Inability to Remain Fixated on a Monitoring Screen
    • Support engineers who need to keep their eyes on a terminal or a display in order to stay on top of support tickets.
    • This is possible while at your workplace.
    • However, this changes during a remote work situation.
    • How Remote Working Aggravates the Problem
    • Support engineers are under a lot of tension whenever they are away from it even for a second.
    • At the same time, being away for a short time is not something that can be fully avoided.
    • This is a lose-lose situation for the organization as well the employee.
    • The support engineer faces anxiety of failing to meet SLAs because he/she didn’t see the incident on time and the organization suffers the consequences.
    • Multi-channel Alerting through MATRIX24x7
    • MATRIX24x7 eliminates the need to spend every waking hour in front of the display.
    • Have autonomous health rules to detect problems and notify the support team via your favourite medium.
  5. Lack Of Enthusiasm In Dealing With Repetitive Tasks
    • Repeating the same set of tasks over and over again will kill the enthusiasm of the support engineer.
    • Negatively impacts the SLAs.
    • High turnover of support personnel which is a strain on the support training team.
    • How Remote Working Aggravates the Problem
    • It is possible to lose attention to details and carry out the wrong rectification steps on the issue which could be detrimental.
    • Further negatively impacts the SLAs.
    • Health Rules and Self – Healing through MATRIX24x7
    • Automated self – healing rules which will address known and recurring issues thus eliminating time wastage on such issues.
    • Ability to fine tune the self – healing rules for recurring issues based on previous experiences.
Isuru Samarasinghe

Associate Tech Lead/RMM & IoT Team