Each day company employees look to their IT Department for answers, whether it is to troubleshoot problems, implement technology like a new cell phone, or to get advice on a software application for business/personal use. While IT techs will gladly give their opinion on the best software for a particular use and implementing new technology is usually easy enough, troubleshooting problems consume the majority of IT staff's time.
Generally, IT folks are able to easily handle the troubleshooting either because they have experience with the hardware/software or just because they know how to find the answer. Yet some problems can be particularly difficult to solve and in that situation IT needs to contact the manufacturer's Help Desk.
With all the services offered by Google Apps, issues are bound to arise. Google offers a variety of support options for IT professionals.
SupportIn the Control Panel, click on the "Support" tab (Figure A).
Under "Online Support", there are some interesting and useful links to help troubleshoot problems. Clicking on "Support Tools" takes you to Google's toolbox for analyzing certain problems. These different tools scan MX records, scan message headers, collect browser information, troubleshoot sent messages, troubleshoot calendar problems, and analyze Google's infamous "Oops" error messages.
Most of these tools prompt you with questions in order to provide a solution. If no solution can be found, it offers a customized form to be filled out which is then submitted to Google's support team. The other tabs on this web page offer troubleshooting with Chrome OS, Postini, email migration, and scripts for Google Connector.
The "Troubleshooting" hyperlink provides some very basic troubleshooting steps for some of the most common issues experienced among the Google Apps services. Like the Support Tools, if the issue cannot be resolved after following the steps, a customized form for your particular issue can be submitted.The "Service Status" line offers two links: one to the Google Apps status dashboard and one to a list of known issues that are actively being addressed. The Google Apps status dashboard allows you to see any global outage with any of the Google Apps services (Figure B).
The chart will display any current issues with a colored icon. This helps you know if the problem your users are experiencing is part of a larger problem with the service. Clicking on the icon will provide some details of the issue, any updates, and if the issue has been resolved (Figure C).
The Known Issues web page lists issues that are actively being addressed and also allows you to report if you are affected by the issue (Figure D).
By expanding the list, you will be able to see the open issues and report if that particular issue affects your domain (Figure E). On the right side is a column of recent fixes to problems that have been reported, including the date when completed. Additionally, at the bottom of the page are links to search further product specific Known Issues pages.
Next to "Documentation" is a link for the Admin Help Center. This web page provides essential documentation for admins of Google Apps. Everything is covered, from basic and advanced admin tasks to fixing issues with Google Apps. (Figure F)
There are two "Forums" options: Administrators and Developers. The Administrator option leads you to a Google Group to discuss with other people the Apps products and also find answers to questions and problems. The Developers forum is for those people looking to get help on coding issues.
The final option under "Online Support" is for What's new at Google Apps. This is a very useful site for admins. Here you can keep abreast of what is coming down the pipeline from Google. It will help you plan the rolling out new or updated features to the users in your domain. Importantly enough, it helps you understand the updates and allows you time to prepare (i.e. create documentation or training resources) before users are impacted.
Under the "User Resources" section are Google Apps Learning Center and the User Help Center for specific products. These are excellent resources to encourage users in your domain to visit. The Learning Center web pages provide comprehensive tutorials for getting started, tips and tricks, and what is new with Google Apps. Most importantly, it helps Google Apps admins to direct users to an area where they can help themselves. In this increasing climate of BYOD, this keeps IT free from having to be responsible for a mobile setup every time a user gets a new phone.
Contacting GoogleIf all else fails, Google makes it very easy to open a support case or to call in and speak with a person. (Figure G)
Clicking on the "Support Homepage" link will take you to a page where there are the same troubleshooting resources described earlier. On this same page there is an option to open a support case with Google. It is very important to point out the Customer PIN and Support PIN, because both of these are needed when opening a support case or calling Google. These PINs help validate you as the administrator of the Google Apps domain.
The Support PIN will change at random so it is necessary to check back under Support in the Control Panel before calling or emailing Google Support. Logging into the Enterprise Support Portal allows you to manage the support case using a WorkforceLogic interface. It's basically a client-side Help Desk portal. There are also Phone Support options for the person who wants to speak to a live person and/or needs emergency technical help. Again, the Customer PIN and Support PIN will be need once you are on the phone with Google.
As you can see, Google offers a variety of ways to get support. There are lots of documentation and avenues of finding the answer to most problems. But if it is necessary, Google is very accessible via support cases and over the telephone.
Tim Lange is an IT professional who, among other things, manages Google Apps for his company.