Can you relate to the sinking feeling that creeps up when you miss a deadline? Maybe an important issue fell through the cracks. Maybe you have too many tasks to keep track of. When you don’t have an issue management system in place, you are bound to make mistakes on the job.
We get it! Before we built DoneDone as a solution to this problem, we struggled to find a consistent way to keep track of tasks and issues that needed fixing.
Read on and find out the main factors that contribute to haphazard task management. We’ll show you how to remedy each one of them by setting up an issue management system.
Why you need an issue management system
Derek Sivers, the founder of CDBaby, believes that ideas are worth nothing unless executed well. In fact, to him, ideas are just a multiplier of execution. Here are three reasons why an issue management system will help your team execute well.
Reason #1: Things must get done.
One thing that we can all agree on is that stuff has to get done in order for a company to be successful. A few years ago, someone told me the origins of the saying, “Fast is the new big.” The days of tycoon business models like that of Carnegie, Ford, and IBM – who could stay ahead by sheer power – were threatened by new companies who were simply faster at execution. Consider Google’s rapid development of new products or Amazon’s speed of acquiring valuable assets.
Speed is also one of the few areas that a smaller business can have an advantage over its larger competitors.
Reason #2: Accountability.
Issue management systems provide a single location to track all the issues and tasks that your company needs to resolve. They’re helpful for staying organized, but they’re also great for adding a layer of accountability.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes tasks fall through the cracks. You may get distracted by a big shiny project and miss a deadline on a smaller project. You may go on a vacation for a few days and return in a state of confusion, forgetting commitments you had made beforehand. Sometimes when teams work together, two people end up doing double work on the same issue while assuming a neglected issue is being looked after by another party.
An issue management system gives you and your team one central location to access all issues, tasks, and projects. No issue is overlooked. Everyone knows who is taking care of what. And, most importantly, if people forget, it’s the software that will hold them accountable.
Reason #3: Timeliness.
A few months ago, the screen on my 55” smart TV started bugging out. It was still under warranty, so I called the service center for a repair or replacement. “Yes sir, it will be done this week.”
One week passed. Nobody came. I called again but had the same problem. I asked to escalate the issue to management. They also delayed. I tweeted about the problem. They tweeted back and said it would be done. It wasn’t done.
Finally, I networked my way into finding the personal email address of the national CEO. I outlined my grievances, told him that his company didn’t have a proper issue management system in place, and pleaded with him to resolve the issue for the sake of his own reputation.
Fourteen hours later, there were 2 company service technicians installing a brand new 55” Smart TV on my wall.
When a customer contacts you with an issue that they’re facing, it’s your responsibility as a trustworthy business to respond to them and try to fix the issue in a timely manner.
Imagine how much time the customer wasted trying to get this fixed. Better yet, imagine how much extra money it cost the TV company to address this issue in such an inefficient way. They lost time and material costs, but they also lost a repeat customer.
Issue management systems exist to solve these problems.
The basic components of an issue management system
An issue management system is a central hub where all employees can see the activities that they need to get done. In its raw form, it provides a remedy to the three problems mentioned in the previous section.
An issue management system:
- Maintains a list of issues to resolve
- Addresses when each issue should be resolved
- Clearly shows who is responsible to resolve an issue.
How to maintain a list of tasks in an issue management system
Depending on your workflow and the types of issues you want to track, maintaining a list of new issues may be a manual process, an automated process, or a hybrid process.
Manual issue tracking
Most companies will start out with manual issue tracking and continue tracking issues and tasks this way forever. That’s perfectly fine! Here are some examples of the types of issues that an employee would manually add to the issue management system:
- Complete the onboarding process with our new hire John
- Fix the bug during profile photo upload process in app version 10.2
- Design the June newsletter
- Respond to customer 10341 regarding cancellation and refund
In all of these instances, a task or issue was created from an idea and manually added to the issue tracking system by the employee or manager who came up with the idea.
Automated issue tracking
A company that is using an issue management system exclusively for customer requests may be able to fully automate the issue tracking process. A popular automated workflow looks like this:
- A customer fills out a support request form on your company website
- The website form forwards the request details directly to your issue management system
- The issue gets logged and assigned to an employee for resolution
- The employee resolves the issue and the customer receives a confirmation email
Now that these issues are automatically logged, employees can focus their entire time on resolving the issues.
Hybrid issue tracking
A hybrid issue tracking method lets you automate incoming customer support requests while allowing some employees and managers to manually enter other tasks that need to be completed.
This is an excellent solution for the vast majority of companies.
Choosing an issue management software
There are a number of issue management apps that you can choose from. Some are bare-bones and simple to use, like DoneDone. Others like Jira and Manuscript are more complex and have dozens of extra features.
For a company like ours, simple and “less” almost always beats complex and “more”. Even if a company eventually needs a more complex system, we’ve found it’s much easier to start simple and find what’s lacking than to start with an overly complex system and try to take things away.
Important features that you must have
These are the most important make-or-break features that should be a part of whatever issue management software you choose:
A crystal-clear workflow – It should be clear who’s responsible for what.
Priority and accountability – You should be able to set deadlines for completion.
User permission levels – You should be able to set permissions for managers, employees, and teams.
Flexible views – You should be able to switch dashboard views to see all of your projects, your team’s projects, or the entire list of issues.
Real-time updates – Your entire team should be able to see the status of their issues in real-time.
And here are a few more nice-to-haves.
Automated email-to-issue features – Allows issue to be created from public form submissions.
Mobile friendly – Everyone should be able to access the application from a computer or from their phones.
Simple reporting – See how you or your entire team are doing with issue management.
There is a plethora of other features available across various applications, but the ones listed above are the basic requirements for any issue management system.
Issue management with DoneDone
We created DoneDone many years ago to help us with our own internal issue management. At that time, we also didn’t have an adequate solution to keep track of bugs, issues, and requests from customers. Now, DoneDone is used in over 100 countries around the world by companies of all sizes.
We decided from the beginning that we would keep DoneDone simple, and that has paid off. In the DoneDone workflow, you follow these easy steps:
- Create an issue in the app
- Write a title and description for the issue
- Assign an employee to fix the issue
- If desired, assign a second employee or manager to verify that the issue has been fixed
- Assign a due date for completion
- Assign a priority level for the issue
- Assign any other team members who should be copied on the progress of the issue
Once the issue is submitted to the issue management system, you and your team can monitor and update the progress.
Maintaining a successful issue management system
Software can only help a team so much. Ultimately, if even one person hasn’t bought into it, software becomes less effective and is just more added noise. If you’ve just started introducing a tool like DoneDone to your team, here are two rules we recommend starting with.
On your first DoneDone project…
- Agree that if an issue isn’t in DoneDone, it doesn’t exist. While it sounds harsh, it’ll force anyone who’s accustomed to sending tickets through email, Slack, or post-it notes to row with the rest of your team members. After a while, your team won’t need this rule anymore—centralizing issues in one place benefits both the issue creators and the issue fixers.
- Assign one person on your team to have the responsibility of holding the rest of the team accountable. This person should remind people to track all of their work in the application and take a look at how issues are progressing. This person can also solicit feedback from the team on what’s working and what can be better. You might find that issues need more definition or people are assigning everything as “critical”. Learn about your team’s etiquette and adjust accordingly.
Ready to set up an issue management system for your own company? DoneDone is the simplest way to get started.
It’s free to sign up, so make an account and get started tracking issues today.