How Issue Tracking Tools Help You Manage Projects Better

“A product manager directs his team, he supports his team, but more than anything, he collaborates with his team.”

A project manager is the binding force that fuels the team, drives the team and maintains the team, to make the journey a success. He addresses every single issue that creeps in during the project journey.

After knowing the issues project manager needs to state these issues as tasks {which clearly talks about problem, priority, deadline, and who needs to act on it} on which he can make his team to work on.

Basically he is putting items from issues bucket to tasks bucket but to do that PM has to:

Understand and analyse the problem

To decide the plan of action for any issue that has come up, its important to understand what the actual problem is, how the problem is affecting the product functionality, how is it affecting the business.

After analysing the issue in terms of its nature(blocker,cosmetic,functionality,security, etc.) and its impact on existing customers you have an idea, how long the system can sustain with the issue. Based on which you can add severity and priority for each issue.

Check for available bandwidth and resources

Next thing you need to work on is to figure out who is going to take up the issue. Aligning someone from the team make him/her accountable for resolving the issue.

But before you do that you require to know how occupied your team members are, what’s pending on their plates and the priority of pending workload.

This helps you take righteous decision on who can work on the current issue and if the one who should work on it is already occupied then you ought to figure out who else can do the tasks occupying the resource required for the present issue.

Then arrangements need to be done accordingly.

Set practical Timelines

Based on priority, severity and resource availability you can have a rough estimate of, when you can expect the issue to get resolved. Tying the issues with deadlines keeps them alive and the issues stay on top of head of the concerned team members.

Once the issue is made as a task, then the tracking job comes into play.Even for a simple workflow like: Open> Dev approved > Dev fixed > QA verified> Closed, it takes multiple steps to get a task actually done. Keeping a track of ongoing tasks and checking if the team is able to meet the set timelines is also something that falls into PM bucket. Now think if PM

·       Has to go through a raw list of issues daily;

·       Has no handy reference of who is working on what and what is the availability of each team member;

·       Has to go back to his inbox every time to know the status of each task.

Would it be efficient? If you have ever been into such circumstances, you know it well. You end up wasting all your time just collecting the information and the important tasks of taking decisions, implementing them and monitoring them takes a back seat.

To avoid being in such a situation Project Managers need to have centralized Issue Tracking System, that can act as a real-time reference. So that, in just a few clicks they have the desired info, displayed in an organised manner that can be easily read, understood and interpreted. The issue tracking system should mainly focus on:

Effective communication

It should be a platform where the team can have a look at the broader picture of what is going on and the direction in which the project is heading. It should be quick and easy to report/add issues for everyone.

Real time dashboard notifications and consolidated email notifications help the team as well as the management to be in the loop for all latest updates. Ability to add replies, provide suggestions/feedback, share resources(documents, images, pdfs, urls, etc.) make the information and ideas to flow seamlessly.

Issues logs and Reports

Having an issue log saves you from ignoring/missing out any issue. Any issue that is filed in the system, will always be available for reference(unless someone intentionally deletes it) and whenever you have bandwidth you can easily go back to the backlog issues and take them up.

Filters, Tags, Dynamic search options help you gain insights about the project progress as well as team performance. Like you can check for how many client issues are still pending or the number of open tasks assigned to any specific team member or may check the for the task whose deadlines are approaching, etc. If the system allows you to export the logs as well then it gives you more flexibility in terms of reporting and filtering.

Task management features

Managing tasks and issues gets easier when individual tasks are stuffed well with relevant information: status, reported by, reporting date, reporting environment, priority, severity, type, assignee, concerned stakeholders, appropriate tags/labels, attachments, etc.

Next thing is the level of customization that is allowed for you to define your workflow. Like if you can define status, type, labels then it gets easy for you and your team to connect with.

Integration with third party tools

Generally some tools are a part of your workflow and including another tool to your toolset should not complicate your processes.

For this it’s quite necessary that the new tools you are bringing onboard integrates well with the ones you are already using. Such integrations keep you going without much disruption in your present workflow.

Client and stakeholder update and feedback

It’s important for you to keep your clients and other stakeholders in the loop. And if your issue tracking system can take care of that then its a boon for you.

Moreover if stakeholder feedback and other issues are available at a common platform then you rule out any possibility of missing out any issues that are observed internally or reported by external clients/stakeholders.

Handling both pre and post launch issues

Issues can come up anytime, so our issue tracking system should be well equipped to deal with issues appearing at any stage of web development lifecycle.

Issue tracking systems stay flooded with issues but the ones appearing in post launch environment should immediately catch your attention as these are the issues that your customers are facing or can face anytime. And customers are king and we cannot afford them to feel ignored.

Other specifications like UI, complexity, learning curve and cost also play an important role.I hope the above checklist would help you take a better informed decision when choosing the right issue tracking system for your team.

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