The Importance of an Issue Tracking System
If you are reading this post, it is a sign that you have some level of understanding regarding the importance of an issue tracking system. Issues represent the details that can easily fall through the cracks if not captured and tracked in an effective system. One of the primary goals of an issue tracking system is to get the details of the issue into the hands of the people who can do something to get the issue resolved. Once you understand that, it almost seems too obvious to be mention.
What is often not considered is how to appropriately utilize an issue tracking system. There is the logistical aspect of giving some thought to how issues will be processed. What statuses do you define to represent the workflow of an issue from initial capture through to resolution, and all the steps in between? What roles will different users have in the system, and what functions can they perform or be restricted from accessing? This takes a little thought, but with the right tool, those types of logistics can evolve over time as you adjust how issues are processed based on experience and feedback from using the system.
Beyond the logistics as described above, the most overlooked aspect on how to appropriately use an issue tracking system has to do with the corporate or team culture as it relates to the unwritten rules and expectations of what goes into the system.
The Issue Tracking Demerit System
Some organizations seem to try to use an issue tracking system more like a demerit system. One benefit of a comprehensive issue tracking system is having data on which to trace route causes. However, if people feel like information is being use to assign blame to the guilty parties, you will find that you have very little data in the system. People will instead do everything they can to resolve issues outside of the system as to not get labeled as the person who made the mistake. That is the paradoxical mistake. You want to create an atmosphere that encourages people to log issues, not hide them. When people have no hesitation in logging issues, you then have more data to figure how to trace the underlying cause and reduce the number of actual issues in the future.