There are a number of on-line resources available to assist with product questions, issues, and plans. BMC Customer Support contributes to each of them based on our experience working customer issues. The goal is after one customer encounters a need, the resulting write-up in the product documentation or knowledge base provides a comprehensive way to understand the issue, why it happened, and how to avoid it. In some cases, the article may begin as a knowledge article or a community post, improve based on feedback, and eventually appear as a new article in the product documentation. There will always be some content overlay between the different areas, but there are also strengths in each format:
Product documentation – Highly structured, comprehensive explanation of how to perform product tasks, how they are related to other, and how to understand product behavior
Knowledge Base – specific failure scenarios, situations, or discrepancies encountered and how they were resolved.
BMC Communities – Informal questions or discussions on how to address a particular objective, often with suggestions and ideas from many different contributors of different backgrounds. Some communities also contain contributed documents, blog posts and webinars that explore a particular challenge, requirement or product feature in depth.
If none of these online resources provide the information required, Customer Support should be engaged to investigate your specific issue. Below are some best practices for engaging BMC Customer Support so we can help resolve the issue quickly.
1. Provide a good written problem description.
It is a good practice to type up a problem description and read it back to yourself to see if it covers each of these areas:
a. What product(s) and versions are being used?
b. What is the expected behavior vs. the observed behavior?
c. What are the steps leading up to the failure or errant behavior?
d. Was it working as expected earlier? If so, when did the behavior change? Is it working as expected in some situations and not others?
e. Which environment is having the issue – development, UAT, production – and what is the impact of the issue on end users, rollout plans or other deadlines?
f. What investigation or troubleshooting have you already attempted or performed?
A good initial problem description covering these areas saves time collecting it later, and ensures your description of the issue is provided verbatim in cases where multiple analysts collaborate on the issue.
2. Provide screen captures or video recreation if possible.
In cases where the visual problem demonstration clarifies the encountered behavior or the desired behavior, a screen capture of video recording is very helpful. These may not only provide clarification of the steps to reproduce, but also other details that may be on the screen but not initially considered relevant.
Problem Steps Recorder, also known as PSR, is a tool included in Windows 7 which can be used to record the steps leading up to a problem. Other tools such as capturing screenshots to a document, or a Webex recording can also be used to demonstrate the behavior.
3. Error messages and debug logs
Almost every BMC Software product feature has log file diagnostics which capture errors. Many can also be set to debug level to show detailed activity when investigating a specific issue. Enabling these logs, recreating the problem, and verifying the logs are updated are a common step in the investigation process. BMC Customer Support is happy to provide guidance on which logs may be relevant to the feature, but much of this information is also available in the product documentation so capturing and providing the logs with the issue can save that extra step.
4. Log collection archives.
Most BMC Software products include a diagnostic collection utility which captures version, configuration, environment, and diagnostic files. They have different utility names such as the Maintenance Tool, Log Zipper, or Collect diagnostic utility, but they perform the role of collecting most of the information we may need to an archive file, so it can be uploaded for investigation. Together with the good written issue description with screen captures, these files provide many valuable inputs to resolving issues quickly.