Sunday, March 5, 2017

Tracking Issues

Picture courtesy of Summit 2016 Sikich booth
I noted in my prior post, Upgrade Issues Abound!!!, that you should track your issues.  I can't express enough the importance of doing this.  It will help you in the future - TRUST ME.

Issues are never fun, you just want to get past them and move on.  They might get passed around to from person to person before they are resolved.  You may just get told "try again" and "Voila!", it's fixed.  Everyone move on happily that it was resolved, and the least of anyone's concerns is how it was fixed.

Speaking from a project manager's standpoint - for sanity sake and future reference, you should document them!  The reason for this stance is simple: it could happen again (expect that it will), and having documentation will help you resolve it much quicker or better yet - prevent it from reoccurring!

Here is a starting primer of what you should document:

  1. What were the circumstances and situation prior to the issue occurring?  Is this part of a business process flow.  What exactly were you trying to accomplish and what were the expected results.
  2. Note any and all particulars about the issue - warning or error messages, correct and incorrectly updated fields, what it now prevents you from doing, etc.
  3. What did you do to resolve?  Apply a hot fix, update some code, change a conversion step, change a configuration setting, etc.
  4. What decisions were made regarding this issue?  Did you define a workaround, change a process, define an alternate method, etc.

There are many tools in the industry that can be used to track issues.  And it may depend on your situation on what might work the best.  The solution can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet and get as sophisticated as a purchased application.  I've used several methods over the years.

Here are tools and thoughts to consider:

  1. Excel - this is a simple but workable solution.  Collaboration with others is doable, but harder to control since you will likely distribute so there will be many versions out there and then you have the arduous task of keeping a master copy updated.  It's free format - so you can create and define columns as you please to suit your needs.  This has served me well over the years, but tracking was mostly on me.  In my opinion, it is a workable solution for smaller short term project involving only a few team members.  You can also store the Excel sheet on SharePoint and set it up so that it has to be checked out and versions are saved.
  2. SharePoint list - this gives a better online view, and you can create dashboards, notifications, etc. to share/communicate with others.  Typically good for sharing within your own organization.  SharePoint can workflow capabilities, so with a bit of programming you can make it a bit more robust of a process.
  3. Google docs - this allows you to share a document and allow interactive updates.  Can be used to share with individuals outside of your organization.  In my opinion, this can be workable but you lose a bit of control since others can update interactively.  So you need to define some rules, but very workable for projects with only a few team members.
  4. Purchased tools of which there are many - I've been on the fringes of a couple (BaseCamp and Pivotal Tracker) which are collaboration tools that can be used with individuals outside of your organization.  They have features that allow notification, logging, and some workflow.
  5. Jira by Atlassian is the tool my company implemented to track issues during our ERP implementation project.  And we continue to use it today in IT to track user requests, software application issues, and also for projects.  This has been a great tool.  It is highly configurable!  It has notification, workflow, dashboarding, and search capabilities.  It has logging so you can see who updated an issue, what field they updated, even if they changed some text.  It is a SaaS tool so you can collaborate with others outside of your organization seamlessly.
You could say that many at my company have a love-hate relationship with Jira.  They get constant notifications, but it has also become our memory!  We use it as a knowledge-base to search for past issues.  We record decisions made, workaround used, code implemented, etc, etc.

Share with me your thoughts on tracking issues and what tools you've used in your career!  Happy tracking!!!

1 comment:

  1. Our implementation partner forced us to use SharePoint, which didn't work well (not sure if it was SP or their implementation of it). For our D365 upgrade project (starting soon) I'm planning to use BaseCamp.