How to Answer Network Outage Questions

Enterprise network outage is a big problem. When a company’s network is down, employees or customers can’t do what they need to. The impact ranges from a slight disappointment to a huge loss of company income.

The one thing that all network outages come with is stress. Business teams and company leaders join network teams to demand answers to network outage questions.

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(Source: https://dilbert.com/strip/1997-01-28)

These conversations are difficult. The stress caused by network outages will never go away. But if you want to make conversations easier, it pays to know how to answer the two most common questions that business stakeholders will ask.

  1. Why is the network down?
  2. When will it be fixed?

If you can answer these questions in a way that the staff understands, you will have shorter and less stressful conversations. This means that you have more time to focus on solving the problem.

1 Common network outage question: Why is the network down?

Business stakeholders often ask this question even when they don’t really care why it’s going down. What they really care about is when the network will work again. However, when they ask a question it is a good idea to answer it.

If you know the reason for the interruption, your answers should be one sentence explaining why. You should always describe the reason in terms that the business understands. You may know that the PoE switch/injector has failed, but that makes no sense to the company. Instead, simplify the failure in basic terms. Oftentimes, it suffices to say something like, “One of the network chests has died.”

Here’s how to describe some of the common causes of network outages in business-friendly terms:

  • Hardware failure = “One of the network boxes has stopped.”
  • Physical damage to cables = eg, “a mouse chewed through a cable.”
  • Network congestion = “Too many users are doing too many things”.
  • blackout = “power failure”. (That’s simple!)
  • Security attacks, such as Denial of Service (DoS) = “Someone tried to hack the network.”

All this avoids the technical details and makes sense for a non-technical person.

If human error causes a power outage, the simplest thing to say is, “We made a mistake, and we’re fixing it now.”

What do you say when you don’t know the reason for the break?

When asked, “Why is the network down?” And you don’t know yet why the simple way to respond is, “We don’t know but we’re looking into it.”

This is not a satisfying answer and it usually leads them to wonder, “Why don’t you know?” After taking a deep breath and trying not to get your attention, here’s how to respond in a way that business teams should understand.

“When the lights go out in a room, you don’t know if the lamp, the fuse, or the electricity is out in the building or on the street. You don’t know why right away, so you have to check things. It takes time. We’re doing the same. We’re looking for The problem is with the network. As soon as we know, we’ll let you know when we can expect to fix it.”

Using an analogy like this helps give context to research the problem. Most people can call in to find the cause when the lights go out. This doesn’t prevent a network outage from being a problem, but it can help teams understand why you don’t have an immediate answer.

The second question for the general network outage: When is it fixed?

This is the question most people want answered. When will life return to normal? It is also a common cause of frustration among technology and business teams. Business wants to know how long they have to wait and tech teams don’t always know.

If you know when the outage will be fixed, that’s great. Tell the staff, “It will take two hours” (or however long you expect).

If you don’t know how long the repair will take, this is a more complicated conversation. It’s tempting to say “it will be fixed when it is fixed”. Unfortunately, this leads to further frustration and escalation for more senior leaders.

The first thing to do is to be open about not knowing. It’s much better to say you know nothing than to take time. If you give an artificial time, the company will then expect a solution in that time frame. If you later find out that the repair will take longer, go back and give a new schedule. This is not a pleasant conversation.

Be open if you don’t know how long the repair will take.

Second, you should give a timeline of when you expect to know. Nobody likes an open schedule. Anyone who hears, “We don’t know when it will be fixed,” imagines days and days without access to work email.

To avoid causing panic, however fun it may seem at the moment, you should always give a schedule. You may not know how long it will take to fix the problem, but you probably know when you will have better information. exchange of information. Give teams a timeline for the next step in the process. will help.

Always give a time frame for the next step.

Instead of saying, “We don’t know how long it will take,” say, “We are looking into the cause and hope to find the cause within X hours. Then we will tell you how long the fix should take.” You don’t meet a deadline to fix the entire network outage. Instead, you are giving a timeline of when more or better information will be available.

The benefit of setting a time frame like this is that you set a deadline for your next update. Instead of people asking you every 15 minutes, you state when more information will be available. Then you can focus on finding and solving the problem.

conclusion

The stress caused by network outages will never go away. However, talking to business teams about them can be easier when you know how to answer their questions. The two most common questions that business stakeholders will ask are:

  1. Why is the network down?
  2. When will it be fixed?

Answer network outage questions in a way your staff can understand, and you’ll have less stressful conversations. This means that you have more time to focus on solving the problem.

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