ERP project teams are constantly putting out fires and resolving issues, and taking time to document issues can be tedious. In most cases, it seems easier to just solve the issue and move on. But that just exacerbates the problem in the long run.
Solving issues without documenting them creates challenges later in the project. This includes re-hashing issues, unexplained project delays, and budget overruns.
A more robust issue tracking process will add value to ERP implementations in the following ways:
Elevating Technical Issues
New software always comes with technical problems (bugs, error messages, something breaks, etc.). When a software problem arises, track it. Don’t rely on your memory alone to keep track of issues. Have the data to show leadership (both at your organization and the software company) the root causes of specific issues. This will help identify which issues are getting worse, which are improving, etc. If issues are getting worse or remain unsolvable, you’ll be able to report back to the project team or software company with specifics.
Improving Future Releases
Track how you solve certain issues that may come up again to help plan for future migrations or software rollouts. Suppose you’re implementing an ERP system at a large organization. You decide to implement the ERP for one division of the company at a time. If you run a technical migration and issues arise, tracking those issues helps you prepare for similar problems should they arise during rollout at the next division. Additionally, tracking helps predict future issues based on past performance. Perhaps you’re migrating open invoices from the old system to the new one and it takes longer than expected. Knowing this, you’ll be able to plan to dedicate more time for this in future migrations.
Enhancing the Overall Business Solution
Understand what solution design issues are causing problems and prioritize what needs to be improved. For example, suppose you’re testing purchase orders, but it’s not working properly because employees are entering incorrect information to complete purchase orders. The project team presumed the testers had a better understanding of what’s needed to input purchase orders, but it was not the case. It’s important to capture all testing issues so employees know what to do instead. You can either fix the system or fix how you’re training people—but you can’t do either without first tracking the issue. If you can capture the issue, you can work to fix it.
With a new system, people will have questions along the way. They’ll have issues that need to be tracked so they can be addressed. Based on these issues, you can identify gaps in training documentation and amend it accordingly. When training employees, it’s important to ensure they know how to use the new system and understand business processes. For example, if a company decides to include new information on invoices as part of the new system implementation, the billing staff needs to know about this change in the billing process.
Increasing Knowledge Sharing
During problem solving, use the issues tracker to capture what was done to solve the problem. It’s crucial to indicate how the problem was solved to help those who have the same issue in the future. Those looking for solutions will know to refer to the issues log for troubleshooting help.
Prioritizing Future Needs
During testing and rollout, people often request a new system feature or requirement. In many cases, the system wasn’t designed to accommodate that request and it will need to be addressed at a later date if it’s not a high priority. You can’t delay the project for one small thing, so it can be logged as a future need issue to be addressed when the project is completed. Then, these open items can be prioritized during a future upgrade.
What to Include in an Issues Log:
Below are some suggested items to include in the issue tracking log. These elements are key in helping team members understand the value of tracking issues. They make solving problems less tedious.
- Implication of the issue (why does it matter?)
- Date issue is logged
- Who logged the issue
- Who is assigned to resolve it
- Date to be resolved by
- Priority level (low, medium, high)
- Status (Open, Closed, Re-opened)
To aid in the process, consider using an app like Trello to capture issues, log decisions, add documentation/screenshots, log comments/sources, send alerts, and provide visibility for those involved. Logging issues in spreadsheets gets complicated and issues get lost in email chains. Issue tracking tools make it easier to track issues.
At Trenegy, we help companies implement the right processes during ERP implementations. This includes robust governance processes that include the right issue, decision, and project tracking tools. For more info, reach out to us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.