Before I ask my question, I must give a little bit of backstory.

We have an issue with one of applications licensed from a vendor that has not been resolved for at least 3 years. The application is used for deployment of software and administrators who use it often have little time to complete their work (due to agreements). My and my colleagues have raised multiple issues to the vendor, but so far we have been given no definitive answer (in all those years) as to what is causing this error.

In past week we have had a meeting with management team (heads of division) and after a meeting I asked one of them about automation issues giving previously mentioned problem as an example (I didn't get a chance to finish my question).

The person asked appareantly got interested with the issue and started to ask people under him why it hasn't been fixed in such a long time and it looks as the issue is now a hot topic. Next day I've been invited to a meeting where me and architect of my team got really into fight (he claimed he wasn't aware that the problem still exists... and I kinda responded to harshly asking if he didn't know about missing licenses too; I did escalate the issue to him and another person in a mail).

Now I am expected to prepare a raport on how big impact this problem is to our service. I am supposed to deliver the data in a week, but I don't actually know if this error happens often enough to be classified as this important (even though my coworkers agree that this is a big issue). (It will also be very difficult to gather statistics due to nature on how logs are stored.)

On one hand, I understand that I should not mention this issue to the top manager, but on the other hand - there is this wrong (IMO) approach to ignoring issues until they really become one.

What do I do to not make the situation worse while using this oportunity to resolve the error?

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    I'm a little confused regarding the problem you want us to address. The escalation itself may not have been the most professional, but the battle has been won. Department heads are asking you for a report to see what needs doing, so do what you've been asked and prepare the report. Let them decide what to do next after they read it. – Steve-O Mar 3 '18 at 21:03
  • Question is not clear. If you cannot communicate better than this then don't try to escalate. – paparazzo Mar 3 '18 at 21:17
  • @Paparazzi I did not try to escalate :) It happened, because the manager got interested (worried?) about the issue. I cannot list the details and I understand how the question is not clear - I was just looking for clues as to what to do in this situation to not make it worse (and as a matter of fact - I think I did). – Artur Rychlewicz Mar 3 '18 at 21:22
  • The change my comment to deescalate. – paparazzo Mar 3 '18 at 21:43
  • I am afraid I do not understand you this time, however I edited the question - hopefully it is easier to understand right now :) – Artur Rychlewicz Mar 3 '18 at 21:50

The impact can be measured in more ways than just how often the error occurs. You can argue that the time invested on resolving the issue when it occurs is impacting the productivity of your team. For this, you can gather the data as voices of your coworkers. Ask each of them "about how much time do you spend trying to resolve this issue (per day, per week, etc)". Their answers are your data to measure impact, under the heading of something like "time lost to investigating issue". (You can probably come up with better wording than I can.). I know I do not understand the issue as deeply as you, but what I am trying to say is that if your co-workers agree that it is a big issue, that essentially translates to "it is affecting my ability to do my work". So, even if you do not have customer feedback, you have immediate usable data all around you just by using your colleagues. Also, you might find out how often the error occurs just by talking with them.
This is a complicated issue, and I can understand why you are frustrated. I myself have escalated issues and said some things in the heat of the moment, and that is dangerous. So, you need to make sure you complete the assignment of creating and presenting that report by the deadline. Do not show up empty handed explaining that you do not have any data. Chances are that this person you argued with has been offended and told his side to management. If management sees the data, they may forgive the incident and focus on resolving the issue. Hey, you might just come out a hero.

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