If you are a software company, your product needs to work…like it’s supposed to.
Your maintenance and support team makes sure that happens. In fact, the team’s most important goal should be to keep things working and fix them quickly when they don’t.
An important part of this process is effective error logging. Error logs are the way systems tell teams whether the application is performing correctly.
Needless to say, logs are kind of an important piece of the maintenance and support puzzle.
That said, ineffective error logs can do more harm than good.
Ideal logs enable support teams to identify errors and troubleshoot on the fly. Based on the problem, engineers can change configurations or correct data to quickly resolve the issue.
Streamlined troubleshooting saves time and helps teams filter which errors escalate to development.
Quick and effective resolutions make for happy clients AND achieve that unspoken goal: keep the application working as it should.
So we’ve talked up the importance of effective error logging. But, how does your team ensure you are creating and using error logs strategically?
Good logging practices takes a commitment from both the support and development teams. At the end of the day, it is up to the development team to define good logs for the support team to use.
So, what should your development team consider when building error logging frameworks?
Think About What to Include: There are many systems that help support teams query the data in the logs. These tools help teams detect errors quickly and accurately. However, logs with ineffective information leave troubleshooters frustrated and confused. This confusion leads to unnecessary and often ineffective error investigations. To prevent this, developers should mindfully identify the content included in the logs. Logs with accurate and timely content make the support team’s jobs much easier.
Unique Identifier – It is important that error messages contain a unique identifier. But keep in mind this identifier should not include personal user information. Take the healthcare and finance industries as an example. The identifier should not include sensitive information such as credit card or social security numbers. Instead, use a randomly generated unit ID.
Consistent Messaging – Error messaging needs to be consistent and centralized. Consistency helps the support team to know where to locate errors. By knowing where to find issues, engineers can quickly navigate and investigate further.
Defined Logging Flows – Define log flows in the software architecture. By preparing a skeleton of how logs should be written, messages will be very straightforward. Alternatively, without this defined flow in place, everyone will write log messages differently. Inconsistent messaging makes the support process much more confusing.
So, be strategic in how your team sets up logging and error messages. A well-defined strategy simplifies troubleshooting and maintenance. All keeping your platform performing how it should.