~ Contributed by Pam Schiltz, Technical Support Consultant, SAS
As a Technical Support consultant with 24-years of service, you might expect me to know it all. But sadly, this is just not the case. Software has changed so fast in 24 years that I could barely keep up. So I am always learning, not only new products and features, but also better ways to analyze the facts that you provide in your problem descriptions. Adding up the clues you reveal is the “Sherlock Holmes” portion of my job, and one of the most rewarding parts for certain. After a recent critical thinking course taken by many Technical Support staff members, I thought through the questions/answers that I find the most valuable in problem solving SAS issues. I added these questions to some of the basic information we always need for users and came up with this list for submitting a thorough request to Technical Support. I hope these practices promote an efficient process for resolving your concerns.
The following are my insights and best practices for you to use when you electronically submit a concern to SAS Technical Support.
Always describe your environment.
All inquiries to Technical Support should include basic information to help us understand your environment. Please include:
- The SAS products that you use.
- The versions of the products that you use.
- The operating system of your computer.
- The operating system of your SAS server computer (if applicable).
- The site number that is associated with your software.
- The order that was used to install your software (if known).
Be as detailed as possible when you describe your concern.
Technical Support defines a "problem" as a "situation in which an expected level of performance is not being achieved". If you have a problem, start by answering the question "What is wrong with what?". This is a good statement to use as the subject of your submission. For example: "New user cannot login to Enterprise Guide" or "PROC SQL generates error message 'xxxx'.
Then, provide details that help us understand the problem's specifics. Consider providing answers to these questions:
- What do you see that indicates there is a problem?
- What were you expecting to happen?
- When does it happen (what do you do to create the problem)?
- Did it ever work as expected?
- How often does it happen? Frequency?
- Who is it happening to?
- When did it begin happening?
Attach supporting documentation.
- If you are presented with an error, please send the ENTIRE log that includes the error.
- If you are presented with an error box that directs you to a log file for further details, please send the referenced log. This is very common during installations.
- If you are encountering a problem with the behavior of a software product, create a screen capture of the condition.
Describe any steps that you have taken to solve the problem yourself.
If you have taken steps already to solve your own problem, please let us know the results. It is often very beneficial to know what testing you have already performed so that we can compare your results to the problem as well as avoid asking you to repeat steps. Let us know if you have tested on other machines, tested with other code or data, applied hotfixes, or followed instructions from a SAS Note, for example.
When submitting a request to SAS Technical Support, be sure to use the above guidelines to help us serve you better.