One of my favourite sources of inspiration, I have to admit, is the Google Site Reliability Engineering team. A few days ago I ended up reading a new article that they published to celebrate their team’s 20th anniversary.
That made me reflect on my own attitude towards support. Systems fail, errors occur, and the reliability of services is put to the test. For those of us who began our careers in support roles, navigating these turbulent waters is almost second nature. It’s a journey that instills in you a unique set of skills and a mindset that thrives amidst uncertainty.
I vividly recall my initiation into the world of support, where urgency was the norm, and problems demanded immediate solutions. At Jeppesen, in the early 2010s, the then called service center was the place to be. During those years, Jeppesen had a somewhat revolutionary approach to support, and I was surrounded by incredibly talented colleagues. My role transcended conventional definitions as I found myself boarding planes at a moment’s notice 🤣, flying to the aid of customers facing critical issues. It was the baptism of fire that shaped my approach to handling production issues even today.
The beauty of support-driven problem solving lies in its agility and adaptability. When faced with a crisis, there’s no time for hesitation. Decisiveness becomes a virtue. It’s a mindset that values quick thinking, resourcefulness, and an unwavering commitment to resolution.
In the face of adversity, some lessons stand out for me as guiding principles. Firstly, the importance of robust testing methodologies. For example, in the world of Software as a Medical Device, regulations emphasize the criticality of integration tests. These tests aren’t just checkboxes; they’re lifelines ensuring that every requirement is met, safeguarding both systems and, ultimately, lives. Secondly, the concept of the ‘Big Red Button’. Every system, every process needs a failsafe, a quick route to reverting unwanted changes or halting undesirable outcomes. Identifying these mechanisms before they’re needed is akin to preemptive firefighting. Lastly, the power of a thought out deploy strategy. It’s surprising how many organisations are still not adopting concept such as the canary release strategy.
The funniest thing about researching for this article is that somehow I managed to trigger the secret Foobar Google recruitment process. Don’t know if I should be more flattered or scared, 🤣 Chrome literally stopped my navigation and said Google has a challenge for me.