Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

Inside the IBM Support Process

No software runs flawless (even if the product is named after a fruit), so from time to time you need to interact with support. The entry point for IBM support is the IBM Support Portal or the support call center. Behind that front is quite a bit a process that is designed to be predictable, repeatable, measurable and ensure that customers get the right level of attention from the right level of expertise. Scribbled on a napkin it looks like this:
IBM Support Sequence Diagram
(click on the image to get a bigger picture)
So you are just 2 degrees away from core development. Level 1's responsibility is to ensure that as much evidence as possible gets provided. This is often the most time consuming task and would tie down product experts quite a bit. It is often a point of contempt since you are not talking to a product expert yet (ironics would say: nothing can be called a process if it isn't broken"). The trick here: call in prepared to keep that phase as short as possible. Also be clear what support does: " Technical question support allows you to obtain assistance from IBM for product specific, task-oriented questions regarding the installation and operation of currently supported IBM software. Short duration problems involving but not limited to: "
  • Installation
  • Usage (how-to)
  • Specific usage/installation questions for documented functions
  • Product compatibility and interoperability questions
  • Technical references to publications, such as Redbooks or manuals
  • Assistance with interpretation of publications
  • Providing available configuration samples
  • Planning information for software fixes
  • IBM database searches
and what it doesn't:
  • Performance analysis
  • Writing, troubleshooting or customizing client s code
  • Extensive configuration questions
  • Recovering a database, or data recovery
  • Consulting
The IBM sales representative will happily discuss a service engagement for the above needs. The full IBM support handbook is available online.In case you wondered how that sequence diagram is made: I used WebSequenceDiagrams that allows you just neatly type your sequence:
title IBM PMR Sequence Diagram
participant Customer
participant "Call Center"
participant "Level 1\n(Generalist)" as Level1
participant "Level 2\n(Product specialist)" as Level2
participant "Level 3\n(Development)" as Level3

Customer->Call Center: Opens call
Call Center->Customer: verifies entitlement
Call Center->Level1: Open PMR
note left of Level1: identify problem
Level1->Customer:request more data
Customer->Level1:provide more data
loop y times
Level2->Customer:request more data
note right of Customer: can take some rounds
Customer->Level2:provide more data
end loop
Level2->Level2: identify solution\n(no code changes)
Level2->Customer:provide solution
loop z times
Level3->Customer:request more data
note right of Level3: this will be\na core developer
Customer->Level3:provide more data
end loop
Level3->Level3:develop fix\n (Hotfix or Fixpack)
note right of Level3:APAR creation
Level3->Customer:provide solution

and generates the graphic for you. Would make an awesome XPages control

Posted by on 05 April 2012 | Comments (3) | categories: IBM


  1. posted by Sean Cull on Friday 06 April 2012 AD:
    That is a great diagram. What is the difference between an SPR and a PMR ?
  2. posted by Stephan H. Wissel on Saturday 07 April 2012 AD:
    PMR = Product Maintenance Request
    This is a request you have since the software doesn't work the way you want. It could be due to understanding or configuration. E.g: 'web users need to be locked out after 3 wrong logins'. The answer to such a PMR would be help for you how to setup the lockout database.
    Common customer misperception: PMR is for reporting bugs. It is actually for reporting the problems you have - be it a bug or something else.
    SPR = Software Problem Report
    Created internally by support or development to track identified bugs. Can be the result of a PMR or identified otherwise. E.g. I have a long list of SPRs that resulted from me pushing XPages boundaries when trying new stuff. Most of them were filed against code drops (a.k.a Alpha versions) and been fixed, thx to Phil and his team - most notably from Dublin, long before the version got released
    Emoticon biggrin.gif stw
  3. posted by sami on Saturday 07 April 2012 AD:
    ibm i heard is process based compnay.. now the diagram is making me understand it.

    tahnks stephan sir!