Software Support Handbook

All users of an application receive an error when attempting to access a service.

Preferred means of contact (voice or email)

Raise the Severity Level of the problem

Ask to speak to the persons manager – Escalations to an IBM manager will receive prompt attention and management focus. You can find contact numbers for your geographic area in theIBM Directory of worldwide contacts.

During this investigation process, the Resolution Team determines if your defect issue falls into one of three categories as described below.

If you can describe the problem and symptoms before contacting software support, you can expedite the problem solving process. It is very important to be as specific as possible when explaining a problem or question to our software support specialists. Our specialists want to give you the right solution, so, the better they understand your specific problem, the better they are able to resolve it.

The following table defines severity levels and provides some examples.

To resolve your software support service request in the most expedient way possible, it is important that you take the following steps before you contact a software support center. You will need to gather information about the problem and have it on hand when discussing the situation with the software support specialist. The following steps are an example of what is required:

Has the problem happened before, or is this an isolated problem?

Critical Impact/System Down: Business critical software component is inoperable or critical interface has failed. This usually applies to a production environment and indicates you are unable to use the program resulting in a critical impact on operations. This condition requires an immediate solution.

Note: On a severity 1 problem if you are not available to work 7×24 the support analyst will likely discuss lowering the severity until you are available or to match your business impact.

When you contact software support to report a problem or update/get status on a problem, your request will be routed to a software support specialist. IBMs goal is to respond to your service request within two business hours during prime shift, and within two hours during offshift hours for critical problems.

Technical references to publications, such as redbooks or manuals

The Resolution Team advises the customer when the defect (APAR) is closed, assists in fix implementation and updates the customers problem record

Planning information for software fixes

For problems reported against Monthly License Charge (MLC) (i.e., System z) software products, IBMs response objectives continue to be based upon the severity of the request. The following table describes these objectives.

It is often helpful to have a printout of the message number(s) of any messages received when you contact IBM support.

At the resolution team level your Service Request is researched, resolved, or escalated as appropriate. Due to the level of specialization required to maintain superior technical expertise at the team level, it is sometimes necessary to involve more than one support team in resolving a particular software problem. This is easily handled, as our support teams are all networked together and work as one to resolve whatever problems or issues arise.

A problem that is not defect-related: If the Resolution Team determines that the issue is not a software defect in supported IBM code, we will continue to work the problem to resolution only at your request and with your concurrence, under a separate services agreement.

Recovering a database, or data recovery

During Off shift hours we will use commercially reasonable efforts to respond, by telephone, within two hours to service requests which you specify to be Customer Critical problems (severity 1). Normal country business hours are defined by your time zone and the prevailing business hours within your country, e.g.: 8:00am to 5:00pm in North America or 9:00am to 6:00pm in some parts of Asia and Europe, Monday through Friday, except national holidays. Offshift hours are defined as all other hours outside of normal country business hours. Offshift support will be provided in English however, we will try to accommodate local language where possible. An appropriately skilled technical person from your site must be available to work with IBMs technical support staff during the entire time we are performing support services outside of normal country business hours. IBM recommends that you use voice or place a follow-up call to the local support center with the electronic PMR/Service Request number. This action helps to ensure a prompt response.

Related operating system and database information

If you are submitting or updating a severity one problem or raising the severity of an existing problem to severity one and it is outside of normal business hours in your country you should open your problem by voice or follow-up your web submission with a call to your local support center referencing the problem number you receive on the web. We want to ensure that your emergency call will be handled appropriately.

You have researched this situation prior to contacting IBM and have detailed information or documentation to provide for the problem.

IBM professional certification program

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. In the course of providing answers to your technical questions, we may refer you to product documentation or publications, or we may be able to provide a direct answer to assist you in the following areas:

For Q&A, handled under a services contract, the response goal is 2 hours for all severities.

For Clients with the appropriate services offerings

Fixes are created and tested at the latest maintenance levels, so it is in your best interest to keep your software current on maintenance.

The defect is determined to be of lower impact which does not require an immediate, permanent fix, we may defer the fix for a future release. APARs will reflect deferred fixes with a closing code of FIN (Fixed If there is a Next release) to designate plans for inclusion in a future release.

Ask for a Duty Manager – The Duty Manager or field manager will work with our technical staff to ensure your request is being handled appropriately.

Submitting problems electronically, enables the resolution team to better understand the issue and be more prepared with the right skill and guidance to respond to your concern.

After your support ticket has been closed, you may be randomly selected to participate in a survey to determine your satisfaction with the way your problem was handled. The survey focuses on elements of your experience of working with IBM Remote Technical Support such as the ease of opening the ticket, the quality of the support that you received and how likely are you to recommend IBM to others. We value your opinion and strive to continuously improve your IBM experience.

Can the problem be recreated? If so, what steps are required?

Once logged, a unique Service Request record (PMR) is created. Please make note of this Service Request number, Incident number, or Support Case number and use it in any future communication on this issue with the support center. Your Service Request is routed to a resolution team for handling. A resolution team is simply a group of software support specialists. You may be transferred directly to the resolution team or your issue will be placed in a queue for response. In either case, the next person to contact you will be a specialist in the appropriate resolution team.

What levels of software were you running when the problem occurred? Please include all relevant products, i.e.: operating system as well as related products.

Provide timely feedback on recommendations and close the Service Request / PMR when you feel the problem has been resolved. If the problem reoccurs you may reopen the original Service Request / PMR by resubmitting the problem electronically.

Note: you should be able to get your IBM Customer number from your client rep, from product invoices, or the call center may be able to help from your machine type/serial or even from your Customer name.

Telephone number where you can be reached if request is voice callback

Sometimes what appeared to be a defect turns out to be “working as designed” (or “broken as designed” as some Customers phrase it). In that case you need to open a product requirement. You can search for requirements similar to yours or open a new requirement through IBMsRequest for Enhancement (RFE) Community. Opening an RFE allows you to communicate directly with product management and community peers.

Stay current on Product Release levels.

A client cannot connect to a server

Company Website is down and users cannot access it

The defect is determined to be of high impact, a code fix is created and delivered to you

Be certain to explain the business impact of your problem to the service representative

Writing, troubleshooting or customizing code for a client

Through the IBM Support Portal or IBM Services site(s), you may post support questions and problems electronically to the IBM support specialists with the best skills for your request. Prior to submitting a problem via the Internet you will need the same information as if you were reporting a problem by telephone. This capability allows you to put all of the pertinent information about your problem into the problem record via the Internet without having to wait for someone to call you back. This should save you time and help with problem resolution time. Refer to theContactssection for more information on the tools available to submit problems electronically.

Minimal business impact: A non-critical software component is malfunctioning, causing minimal impact, or a non-technical request is made.

Alternate ways to reach you, more than one phone number, pager, email address

Maintenance level comparison reports

Providing available configuration samples

Note: We will work with you 7×24 to resolve critical problems providing you have a technical resource available to work during those hours.

IBM Voice Support is available for most Series z platform software products and to all current support contract holders through a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) telephone number in your country (where available). You will be required to provide your IBM Customer Number for validation of the support service to which you are entitled to as well as the product about which you are calling. Please refer toIBMs Planetwide Sitefor specific country phone numbers. In most cases, we provide native language support.

When submitting a problem to IBM Software Support about a particular service request, please have the following information ready:

Answering extensive configuration questions

IBM technical events and conferences

(also includes My systems and My inventory)

Your availability (i.e. when you will be able to work with IBM Software Support).

IBM does not warrant that our products are defect free, however we do endeavor to fix them to work as designed. You may be surprised to learn you play a key role in this effort. Our remote software support is available to provide you assistance and guidance, however we assume that you will provide information about your system and the failing component, information that is key to resolving the problem.

After allowing the Duty Manager time to make an impact, if further escalation is required then open a Complaint or nominate as a Critical Situation (CritSit), if warranted, by asking any member of your IBM Client team to do so on your behalf.

Some business impact; Indicates the program is usable with less significant features (not critical to operations) unavailable.

Customers can change the severity level of a problem if circumstances change from when it was first entered to match current business impact conditions.

There are several products/support offerings that can enhance the response criteria to cover additional hours for additional severity levels, please refer to your product specific terms for details.

The Lotus Notes mail server is down and affecting all users.

Severity levels are determined during a mutual discussion between you and the support analyst, based on the business impact of the issue. If you designate a problem as a Severity 1, IBM will work on it 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, providing you are also available to work during those hours.

Please note: IBM will use commercially reasonable efforts to respond to service requests from your authorized contacts within the criteria shown below. Our initial response may result in resolution of your request, or it will form the basis for determining what additional actions may be required to achieve technical resolution of your request. Depending on the complexity of your request, the next response may take days. Be sure you and your support rep agree on what the next action is and when the next checkpoint will be. Severity 2,3, and 4 problems reported offshift will be queued for the next business day.

IBM may also recommend reviewing the problem information or test cases on-line by setting up a remote session. To accomplish this, IBM has two approved tools;Assist On-site (AOS)andSmartCloud. While other tools may exist, IBM discourages their use since our support people are not trained on them nor can IBM take responsibility for the security of your data with these other vendor tools.

When communicating with a software support specialist, you should also mention the following items if they apply to your situation:

Define your technical question in specific terms and provide the version and release level of the product(s) in question.

The machine type/model/serial number (for Subscription and Support requests)

You can designate a knowledgeable alternate contact with whom we can speak.

Have any changes been made to the system? (hardware, NetWare or software)

How IBM handles technical questions

The development teams analyze the APAR or SPR to determine how the defect will be addressed. One of a number of fix related activities may result:

Selecting the appropriate Severity and letting us know the business impact will help to get the right focus on your problem.

A known defect-related issue: If the Resolution Team determines that the issue is the result of a software defect that has previously been reported, the following actions may be taken:

IBM prides itself on delivering world class software support with highly skilled, Customer-focused people. However, IBM support can never take the place of your companys internal help desk. Many successful companies have found the best way to interact with IBM software support is through a cadre of highly skilled and trained employees who understand their companys environment and act in conjunction with their internal help desk. These senior staff members are able to filter, sort, and prioritize their companys problems and direct them toward the best resource (IBM and non-IBM) for resolution. These are the people who become authorized contacts to collaborate with IBM software support for fast resolution of IBM problems as well as assuming a similar role with other vendors. We encourage you to adopt such a structure, if you havent already, as it will help us secure the success of your IBM solutions.

You are participating in an early support program.

Interpretation or triage of customer or third party generated defect scanning reports

You have other open problems (Service Requests or PMRs) with IBM regarding this service request.

You need to be aware of your responsibilities when working with an IBM support center. If you do not have the required skill or are unwilling to do the work, you can engage a services provider such as IBM Global Services (IGS) or a business partner to assist you, for an additional fee. If you are involved in a services engagement in which IGS or a Business Partner is designing and implementing an application for you, you should suggest that the statement of work be very clear as to whose responsibility it is to work suspected code defect issues with IBM, to ensure proper entitlement for remote support.

IBM Support Center hours cover the prevailing business hours in the country where your product is licensed and/or your contract is registered. You should keep this in mind if you are considering outsourcing your operation or help desk to a firm that is overseas or working in another time zone. (There could be a few exception for countries where M – F is not their normal work week or business working time is not the same as for your Country due to different time zones. In those cases contact your Business Partner/Reseller or IBM Sales Rep to get your hours of coverage).

You may submit your request for assistance by using the IBM Support Portal or Services Site or by contacting IBM directly by telephone (where available and entitled) seeContactssection. These requests are logged into the IBM problem management system.

Related product and version information

Product compatibility and interoperability questions

This information includes capturing documentation at the time of a failure, applying a trap or trace code to your system, possibly formatting the output from the trap or trace, and sending documentation or trace information, in hardcopy or soft copy, to the remote support center. You are also responsible for obtaining fixes, by downloading or by receiving ones that have been shipped to you on media, applying the fixes to your systems and testing the fixes to ensure they meet your needs. Occasionally, removal of installed fixes may be necessary in the process of isolating problems. And sometimes fixing a problem will mean the installation of a later release of the software as some fixes cannot be retrofitted into earlier code.

Assistance with interpretation of publications

Recommendation for mid and large-range Customers

It is a good idea to keep support informed of Major Upgrades/Implementations.

Specific usage/installation questions for documented functions

Because of the complexities of the environments supported, APARs and SPRs will often take several weeks, possibly months, to debug and to write, test, package and distribute a fix.

Most of these types of situations require some form of Advanced Support Offering. For further information about these services please contact your IBM Representative who can help direct you to resources who can discuss your needs.

IBM is working to deliver an exceptional client support experience. We have adopted a digital survey platform to encourage clients to give feedback that will empower IBM employees to listen and take action. Frequent, more targeted feedback allows us to enhance your experience.

If no workaround is available and it is determined that one is required, the Resolution Team will work with the customer to find the best feasible workaround

IBM has found that by keeping the questions/issues separate (one problem per Service Request/PMR) we can provide better service to our clients.

Gather relevant diagnostic information (if possible)

Severity level situations and examples

Subscription and Support and Support Line are not structured to address everything — the following are examples of areas that are beyond their scope:

You are under business deadline pressure.

We have found that the following practices, help us to ensure we can provide the most timely resolution to your question or problem.

To solve problems effectively, the software support specialist needs to have all of the relevant information about the problem. Your ability to answer the following questions will help us to solve your software problem.

Significant business impact: A software component is severely restricted in its use or you are in jeopardy of missing business deadlines because of problems with a new application rollout.

In order to investigate the issue, IBM may need to access information on your system relative to the failure, or may need to recreate the failure to get additional information. Should the problem be configuration related, it is possible you may need to recreate the problem to get that required information. Our software support specialists may request that you send in the problem information or test cases or that they be able to view it with you electronically. To accomplish this, you may be offered several options by the IBM support specialist. SeeExchanging Information with IBM Technical Supportlater in this handbook for more information on the options available.

It is often necessary that our software support specialists analyze specific diagnostic information, such as relevant logs, storage dumps, traces, etc., in order to resolve your problem. Gathering this information is often the most critical step in resolving your problem. Product specific diagnostic documentation can be very helpful in identifying what information is typically required to resolve problems. If you are unsure about what documentation is required, visit theIBM Support Assistant (ISA)page. After installing the software, try searching on MustGather and the product with which you are having trouble. Not all products will have an ISA plug-in available but you may find additional information on the individual product support page under troubleshooting. You can always contact software support for assistance in gathering the needed diagnostic information.

For impacting problems, once an APAR or SPR is created the appropriate development team(s) become engaged and will work to resolve the situation.

Severity of the issue in relationship to the impact of it affecting your business needs

We believe IBM Support is Best of Breed. If at any point in our service process, you feel we are not meeting our commitments to you (as outlined in this handbook), you may call our attention to this problem by doing one or all of the following:

A new defect: If the Resolution Team determines that the issue is the result of an IBM software defect that has not been reported before, we will work with you to create an Authorized Program Analysis Report (APAR) or Software Problem Report (SPR) to track the resolution of the defect. These APARs and SPRs are routed to the appropriate development teams.

A fix or workaround is provided to circumvent or correct the issue

Were any messages or other diagnostic information produced? If yes, what were they?

Leave a Comment