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Issue Tracking

As I mention in this post, having an issue tracker is a key tool for managing all the different issues that arise during the implementation and live usage of an association management system. But for some reason, until just recently, most of the AMS providers did not provide any kind of online system for submitting bugs, issues, requests, etc. I would guess that it’s just in the past year or so that the bigger players, like TMAR, Protech, ACGI, and Avectra, have instituted and successfully used online issue tracking systems. I haven’t seen any of the “smaller” players, with the exception of perhaps MatrixGroup, implement any kind of online system. As far as I can tell, most are still using the old “Excel spreadsheet back and forth via email” routine.

At this point, with technology as cheap as it is, there’s really no excuse not to have an online issue tracking system. They are relatively easy to use, can be made accessible to all, and can serve as a central depository for all kinds of issues. They are especially useful for tracking “wishlist” items that come up, are not critical now, but should be addressed in the future. These kinds of issues typically fall into a black hole if there isn’t one place to put them.

These companies all (rightfully) push “centralized data management” as a key benefit to their own systems, yet they’re not practicing this in the area of issue management. Ironic, doncha think?

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  • Terry Dowdy

    Wes, Avectra has had online issue submission and tracking for netFORUM since at least early 2004. Of course, for most (myself included) it has always been easier to pop off an email (or in dire straits, pick up the phone and start ranting). This may be why its not as successful as it should be. I don’t think it had the ability to export to Excel, which would be great since many times I need or prefer to have paper in hand when working with colleagues to iron out issues. They also have a firly cool implemnetation system online for clients that haven’t gone live yet.

    Cheers,

    Terry

  • Wes Trochlil

    Terry, your raise two good points (whether you knew it or not!):

    1. The issue tracking system is only as good as the people who use it. That means both the client and the vendor have to be committed to using it consistently. Kinda like a regular AMS, huh?

    2. An online implementation system is a great idea, too. And if you got into the habit of using the implementation tool, you could continue using it after go-live, assuming they are the same tool (as they should be).

  • Terry Dowdy

    After rereading my first comment, I realize I wasn’t explaining it correctly. Their issue tracking system is basically the same system they use to track all of their support issues (a modified version of netFORUM) so all issues get into the system regardless of how they get reported to Avectra. The succeess part I was talking about was clients using the web interface rather then email or phones. When I’ve had to oversee helpdesks, it was always better to have end users enter their issues directly into the system, either via a web interface or automatic email parsing. It allowed my support people to spend more time on problem resolution as opposed to data entry. So any client can go into the customer suport area of the web site and see all of their issues broken down by status. One think that I believe is still missing is the ability to handle attachments, at least so that they’re visible to the customer. Most times an issue needs to have screen shots etc. attached to make the issue clear.

    As for Avectra’s Implementation Central, I agree that it would be great if it was integrated into the support system, but I’m not sure if it is. From the end users view they appear to be different.

    Okay, I’m not an Avectra employee so they need to jump in here and explain more…all of the vendors read your blog, don’t they? If they’re not monitoring ALL of the association related blogs they should be in another business…I hear the Justice Department may be hiring.

  • Wes Trochlil

    Ha!

    Agreed, the systems need to allow for screenshot attachments. Almost impossible to communicate certain issues otherwise.

    Yes, ALL the vendors read my blog religiously. They’re just shy about posting. 😉

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