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Three Reasons Why You Need a Formal Tracking System – New Article Posted
20 April 2010, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

A new article has been posted to my website.

When issues are raised during a project, there are three challenges faced by the project managers: capturing the issues, acting on the issues, and reporting back to staff about the issues. That last point is critical; one of the most frequent complaints I hear from staff is that issues raised by staff are never addressed. It’s not unusual for me to hear staff say: “It’s as if our comments just go into some kind of black hole.”

What’s critically important throughout this process is to ensure there is a process for capturing all of these issues. Click here to read the article.

Of course, if you’re already on my announcements list, you would have received notice of this new article right in your email box. Not signed up yet? Sign up here.

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  • Sam

    Good points, Wes. I agree 100% about the potential value issue tracking systems offer. Find a system that delivers on the potential seems to be the hard part. In my experience their is a tremendous amount of overhead involved in setting up issue tracking systems, training users, cajoling users into adopting them and maintaining them.

    I’d estimate my organization has invested several hundred hours of staff time in trying to find and implement a low cost, flexible, and user-friendly issue tracking system – and getting users to adopt it. We still haven’t found something that works. All of the ones that integrate nicely with version control software tend to be too technical for non-technical staff. When we’ve implemented open source solutions, we’ve found ourselves investing a lot of time in administrating the system. When we’ve used paid services, user adoption is a major problem because it is yet another system for our users to log into.

    Lately, I’ve been using a Google Spreadsheet with priority, description, due date, time estimate and commentary columns. I put items in there when people send them to me and keep the table sorted by priority. Anyone can review the spreadsheet at any time. On team calls, we sometimes review it together. It’s not ideal, but all of us have Google Apps open all day. And, while I do all the entry and updating, that’s not unlike the way it was when I used ticket systems with low user adoption. I was the one creating the tickets out of everyone else’s emails.

    Would love to hear what issue tracking tools you have had success with.

  • Wes Trochlil

    Sam, you raise a great point, which is that user adoption is the key to success for any data management system (which, after all, is what an issues tracking system is).

    I would emphasize that “slickness” of the system is secondary to user adoption, so if Google Docs is working for you, stick with it. What is key is to ensure that users have access to it so that they know if their concerns are being heard and addressed!

    What you’ve described in terms of reviewing the doc on calls is exactly what we’re shooting for; a single source for everyone to refer to. It sounds like you’re actually being fairly successful, even if it doesn’t look pretty.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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