A process for detecting software errors in a computer program and automatically gathering diagnostic data limited to the error to be resolved. Error detection code is placed within the software program during program development. When an error or failure is detected, this process is called and captures only the data required to debug the software error. The error detection code notifies the process of which data to capture by selecting entries from a table within the process. This table, known as an Application Data Table (ADT), contains the layout and format of all data areas used by the calling problem program and information required to build a generic alert and send the generic alert to a computer network monitor program. This process is only called conditionally when an error is detected. It is completely idle until such a condition occurs.