Yesterday a client asked me for a comprehensive list of all the features that were being worked in one of their current projects. He was looking for a quick reference on what was completed and what was outstanding. I constructively pointed him to the project's issue tracking site which we had set up for them prior to the start of development. This gave him access to a breakdown of all the project's tasks and the potential issues or non-issues associated to each task. This was exactly what he was after.
What is Issue Tracking?
In software development, issue tracking is sometimes called 'bug tracking'. This term does not fully encompass its entire utility, however. Applied correctly, issue tracking software is capable of much more than simply reporting 'bugs' during the development phase. The ultimate goal of any issue tracking system is to provide a work flow which allows the software's developers and stakeholders to not only make sure work items are complete, but to make sure they are completed correctly. Generally, a work item will be assigned to a ticket. The steps involved in the ticket work flow are Reporting, Prioritization, Resolving, and Reviewing. This process can be repeated several times before a ticket is closed. This ultimately allows software to be developed as quickly as possible with the fewest issues.
What Else Can it Do?
Aside from tracking tasks and dysfunctions in a project, issue tracking system can also fulfill many other useful organizational needs such as providing accountability on a project or process level, monitoring employee performance, and managing requirements. Issue tracking can also integrate and interface with other software tools to increase its functionality. Version control systems, reporting engines, and time keeping systems are a few tools that issue tracking software can communicate with to improve the project management process.
Which One is Best?
Every issue tracking system is different. Issue tracking software should be based on a company's processes, needs, and work environment. At Smart Software Solutions, we've implemented TRAC as our issue tracking software. It features a standard ticket tracking system, project management tools, wiki content, version control interface, and customized reporting. The biggest draw, however, it's open-source which allows us to integrate it with custom software such as our Time Keeping System (TKS). This helps us utilize the software across many different facets of the company ranging from process improvement to employee evaluations.