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Step 5: Create a Plan of Attack

Now that you've identified the most likely causes of the problem, it's time to disprove each of the possible causes in turn. As each of the potential causes is eliminated, you narrow your search further. Eventually you will reach a problem that you can't disprove, and your most recent attempt will have corrected the problem.

One thing you don't want to do is make changes in many areas at once. Making one change at a time, working on only one component per change, ensures that you'll be able to identify the modifications that actually fixed the problem.

You don't need a hard and fast plan for the follow-up steps to take if a test doesn't solve or identify the problem. However, you should at least think about where you're going to go next. Your prioritized list will be of great help as you make plans for the future. Don't be too surprised if your plans take a slight detour, thoughæcrystal balls are notoriously vague.

A final step in preparing your plan is to review it with those holding a stake in solving the problem. This probably includes management, the customer suffering the problem, and anyone working with you in troubleshooting.

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