A developer's guide to a week of support

At earthware we don't just stop at launch. Our developer's roles don't solely consist of building new apps, bots or sites, but also supporting those apps, bots and sites after their go-live date.

A week of support is often unpredictable but the same type of issues will appear, some examples are:

  • Bug fixing and tweak making - from changing the content on a system email to fixing a bug after upgrading to the latest iOS version.
  • Hardware support - setting up an SSD for a new colleague, investigating random PC crashes.
  • Internal support - installing a new JIRA plugin, or working out why Skype for Business is crashing on a colleague's mac.
  • Service outages - when one of the services we use to host sites, send email, or manage our projects goes down.

The unpredictable nature can often be bewildering to start off with, but if you follow a few tips support can be a breeze (and even enjoyable). So here are my tips for how to make support a success:

  • Use a ticketing system - We at earthware use Freshdesk at the moment but there's a myriad of alternatives out there. This is truly a must, without this it would be incredibly difficult to keep up-to-date with support issues that come in, or document the progress you've made on an issue.
  • You can never over-communicate - I've found that it's impossible to ever over-communicate back to the person raising a support ticket - I tend to send an email to acknowledge a support ticket and then emails throughout the investigation and resolution of a support ticket (outlining your progress or potential lack of progress).
  • Document, document, document - We use confluence and have a space for each project we have ever run. Each project has a common support issues page that contains a log of that project's most common support issues - and what the go-to resolution of them can be. Obviously these pages need to be kept up-to-date to reflect any new support issues or changes in what the common resolution is.
  • Setup monitoring - Again we use Azure application insights to run availability tests on all our sites, if a site goes down a ticket is automatically created in our system.
  • Know when to ask for help - For me this one is key, even though you may be the only person on support that week it's essential to have a team of colleagues that you can ask for a five minute pointer that will save you an hour of rooting through an old codebase.