Support deliberation is a process of discussing the challenges we faced in support handling. It is an initiative which our CEO suggested, and we are following this to transfer the knowledge to the team. With the different levels of support, it is important to share the knowledge between the team members, so that it would help them to resolve customer issues efficiently, when they come across similar kind of issues. It’s not only for the support team, the entire product team, including the developers, QA and the documentation teams take part in this deliberation.
I would like to narrate this blog as a Q&A session, so that I can explain in detail.
What is deliberation?
As deliberation defines, it’s a place where we discuss in detail about the support process and the challenges we faced in resolving the issues related to the product. Every participant will share their view and add points to the discussion.
Who are all the stakeholders?
Everyone who is inside/part of the product will take part. People from Development, QA, Document and Support. The thumb rule is no one should skip the meeting. It is important for every team member to attend this meeting, because it would be helpful for everyone to gather more information about the product, as well as the customer’s expectations and queries.
Yes…!! We are the stakeholders of BizTalk360
What do we discuss?
At first, we used to conduct this meeting twice in a month for 30 minutes. We thought that we were delaying the process and for providing immediate attention to the support tickets, we cut down the days and currently we are conducting every week, Tuesday from 03:00 to 03:30 PM IST, sometimes it may extend a bit longer.
Each support person would come up with a list of interesting and challenging support tickets they had resolved the past week. The challenges include the support tickets, support articles, blogs, new feature requests and enhancements which were raised by customers.
What is the process?
The process is simple and clear, we will follow the below Agenda:
- Discussing past one week important/challenging support cases
- Discussing the solution provided
- Gather inputs from the team members
- What needs to be improved
- Key Takeaways
Simple isn’t it?
What’s the flow?
We start with the updates and actions taken on what we discussed for the previous week, based on the key takeaways from the meeting. Then we will discuss the current week challenges.
What did we discuss in the present week?
Well, let’s dive deep into this. We will take past 7 days tickets for the discussion.
Interesting/challenging support tickets
We started the meeting with the interesting/challenging support tickets which we handled that week. Let’s take a support case.
When a customer tried to install BizTalk360 on a stand-alone machine, they faced below exception during BizTalk360 database creation.
At an initial stage, we thought it might be a permission issue. Later, after a lot of effort we found it’s due to the TLS versions enabled in that machine.
The development team would only have more knowledge about the product functionality, but they would be unaware of the security configuration at the customer end. This discussion will give them a better insight into the customer scenarios. As a takeaway, we have conveyed this to the developer team and testing team. So, that they will know the dependency of the installer and work/test accordingly.
There is no perfect product and there is always more scope for the development of the product in the form of either bugs or enhancements. As BizTalk server is an ocean, we are trying to cover most of the functionality. Very recently we faced an issue with the customer side on Business Activity Monitoring (BAM). When they added a column, they received an error.
This issue happens when the end date column has NULL values and it was selected in the BAM query in BizTalk360.
We have passed this scenario to our team so that both developers and test engineers will be aware of it and they will include these scenarios in their test case checklist.
Creating team awareness
This topic is something interesting; even though it will be out of BizTalk360, it is still relevant.
Most of our customers started to face an exception in BizTalk360, once after installing a Windows Security patch update. We found the root cause, that not only BizTalk360 shows the exception, it is because BizTalk Server facing an exception, which is reflected in BizTalk360. We recommended removing the patch update and that solved their problem. Luckily Microsoft has re-issued the updated patch for the same on July 30, 2018.
Interesting isn’t it? We have conveyed to the team, so that they will be aware of the issue. If they face the same problem with BizTalk server, they will not wait for our system engineer to repair, but they will try to fix the issue in BizTalk Server. After that, the problem will most likely be fixed in BizTalk360 as well.
At BizTalk360, we evolve the product based on feedback we get from different forums like:
- Support tickets
- Customer relationship calls
- Feedback portal
- Direct feedback
Based on the customer’s feedback, the tickets will be discussed. The feedback may concern an existing feature enhancement, a new feature or a feature document.
Based on the discussion the action will be performed. Say for example, if the feedback comes to a documentation enhancement, one of us (as we are DevOps) will be assigned to complete the necessary changes.
For an existing feature enhancement or a new feature, we will discuss with the team. Based on the team members feedback, we will add the feature in the Feedback portal and make other customers vote for it. Based on the number of votes, we will include in the product or if it is already available in the portal, we will wait for the interest of other customers. If the team agrees to accept the feature for development, one of the persons will be assigned to develop or to improve the feature.
The Brainstorming session
This is an interesting part for me. We don’t want to run the session like a normal Knowledge Transfer session with the team and we always prefer an interactive session. So once after explaining the problem faced by the customer, we will ask the team what the best solution would be and what the necessary steps are to solve the problem.
The first point is to make the team understand the problem and get their opinion. It will help us to get the solution and their point of view and may provide a better dimension of that case. We have received a better suggestion from the team, every time.
Hidden fact, it helps themselves, while developing, testing or documenting a feature. They will always be aware of how the customer is using a feature and act accordingly.
Minutes of Meeting (MOM)
Each meeting ends up with the key takeaways and MOM. This will help us to follow up and take necessary actions. During the next deliberation meeting, we start up with the past week’s MOM or with the tickets what we have discussed.
Why we started this process?
We wanted to break the dependency of individuals like Module owners and get more knowledge from our higher levels. As DevOps, we should be ready to accept any challenge while working in different roles . It’s also important to understand and be aware of the customer environment and business requirements.
I want to take this opportunity once again to thank everyone in and out of BizTalk360 for this wonderful opportunity and believing in us. We are looking forward, for much more opportunities.