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I've often thought about why there aren't any diagnostics manual on a very broad level, a counterpart to the medical DSM-IV/ICD-10 manuals. From a troubleshooting perspective, the work of an investigative technician would be very much a like that of a physician: Gather information about the problem, investigate root cause and diagnose, provide information as to why the problem has occured, what is normal behavior and resolve it.

I would assume that a computer technician has better capabilities of understanding an IT problem since we've created computers and have defined how they should work (unlike medicine, which we're still learning many fundamentals of). If this assumption is correct, I imagine that it's possible to write such a manual that would also be very precise/exact.

So my thoughts are: Would it be beneficial to compile such a manual? Are there any obvious problems I've missed that makes this an impractical idea? Why haven't this already been done?

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There are quite a few of these methodologies. One I've had direct and good experience of is a company called Kepner Tregoe who sell a training course called Analytic Troubleshooting (ATS):

http://www.kepner-tregoe.com/theKTWay/WorkingWithKT-TeachYou-ATS.cfm

Where they teach you a troubleshooting methodology similiar to the one you describe, quantifying the scope/scale/severity of a problem and so on. I still have and often refer to a set of thick plastic colour coded cards printed with the different steps of the method. The training was paid for by a company I worked for at the time and I think it was the best value training I've ever had. Technical training is past it's sell by date within a couple of years or so, the ATS method I learned is still effective 12 years on.

Others I've seen: Cisco have a network troubleshooting methodolgy:

http://www.cisco.com/iam/unified/ipcc1/System_Troubleshooting_Methodology.htm

Toyota (famous for Lean Manufacturing) have the A3 Troubleshooting method:

http://www.coe.montana.edu/ie/faculty/sobek/a3/index.htm

More broadly the skills associated with critical thinking are very useful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

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Thank you, while this certainly applies to what I was asking, I was thinking more of a standardized document that would apply to not only troubleshooting methodologies, but also relevant conclusions that can be made and a diagnostic label of the problem. I will however accept your answer since I'm pretty sure there's no such thing available today, though I'm still interested in what other people might think of such an idea. –  dadver Sep 20 '10 at 14:02

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