Dump your issue tracking system – get agile!

It’s a sad reality. Most IT departments are drowning in a sea of unresolved trouble tickets. Every staff member does her best to keep afloat by working off issue after issue from the never ending stream of trouble tickets. Motivation and quality plummet because, in such a work mode, people tend to

  1. work alone
  2. feel high pressure due to the amount of unfinished work
  3. lack concentration due to continuously incoming “super urgent” requests being even more urgent than the “super urgent” request they are currently working on

If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to fundamentally change the way you organize your work.

Address Root Causes

If you look at your trouble ticket system and the dynamics of how often certain kind of issues get added to the list (usually at the top), you might find regular problems that your group responds to with “Yeah, this is also because of a known design issue which we didn’t get time to address”. Very often, the team knows exactly what to do to get rid of the source of these recurring issues, but they think they don’t have the time to properly fix it. And this, of course, is true if you only live by the trouble ticket system.

A first measure is to do a weekly retrospective looking back at which issues occurred and how you could prevent them from happening again. This, combined with the already existing knowledge about weak spots, gives you a set of tasks your team should address next week.

Enjoy the benefits of a self-reinforcing loop for the better

By tracking every week how many new issues were added to the issues list and how many you were able to fix, you can see whether fixing root causes has a positive effect over time. Best case scenario, the rate of new issues appearing should drop dramatically and by fixing one root cause a set of existing issues might even become obsolete and vanish from the list. Both effects provide a positive, boosting influence giving you even more breathing room to address more root causes. This leads to an upward spiral which can finally lead to a zero issues bug list. In such a scenario, you’ll be able to fix bugs as fast as they appear (effectively making any issue tracking tool obsolete). Instead, a simple backlog of your current work in progress (and the few things not yet addressed) will more than suffice.

One thought on “Dump your issue tracking system – get agile!

  1. Sprints are good, but I like to use bug-tracking tool (namely JIRA) to describe problem/solution and use this ID in version-control-commit. As result I can find why I have fixed this problem in this way year ago..
    And I think, that a list of super-urgent-bugs is a bad indicator, it just should not exist.


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