Business analysts usually encounter business problems that need to be solved. This can happen before a project is initiated, during software development or when software solutions have been implemented. Successful problem tracking helps business analysts resolve problems promptly, eliminate their negative impacts, and devote time to other pressing issues.
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) defines problems as “issues, questions, risks, defects, conflicts, or other concerns that need to be tracked to resolution.” Business analysts must know how to effectively track problems from when they are discovered and be clear on the actions needed to solve them. The importance of business analysts in problem tracking is particularly important in situations where they are involved in user acceptance tests and ensuing defects need to be resolved.
This technique is also known as “Item tracking” or “Issue Tracking", and it covers the supervision of defects, assumptions, actions and issues until they are resolved or closed out. It also provides an opportunity for stakeholders to rank the importance of issues affecting them.
Create A Record Of Problems
After the discovery of a problem, the first step is to record it. Each record should include a concise description of the problem that is clear and understandable to everyone. Don’t forget to mention the person who discovered the problem, the date the discovery occurred, and the person who has been tasked with the management of the problem.
If you are tracking just two or three problems at the same time, it’s easy to stay organized without much effort at all. Things get much more complicated when the problems pile up. Business analysts may be expected to assign each identified problem a certain priority (either numerical or on the scale from low to high), a status (open, resolved, cancelled, and so on), and an estimated or actual completion date, in collaboration with the Project Manager and other key business stakeholders. They may also clearly indicate which actions are required to solve the problem, allowing all stakeholders to understand what needs to be done.
An issue log template is available on Project Management Docs for free. You may use as-is or customize it to fit your needs.
Step Up Your Problem-Management Game
As useful as problem records are, they won’t solve your problems for you. You need to ensure that each problem has been assigned to someone who is competent enough to solve it. Conduct regular progress reviews and look for problems that are starting to lose their visibility. When low-priority problems take too long to solve, people naturally start to lose their focus, dedicating their time and energy to more pressing matters. This is unavoidable to a certain extent, but you should always strive to prevent low-priority problems from piling up or getting worse.
Common Pain Points And How To Overcome Them
Outdated or wrongly prioritized lists of problems can cause stakeholders to make wrong decisions. Schedule regular progress reviews with stakeholders to review priorities and find out whether the original plan of action still aligns with the current situation.
Sometimes, certain project members won’t be as available as you would like them to be, and it will take them more time to complete the work assigned to them than necessary. Put your personal skills to good use and figure out what’s holding them back. Perhaps the task doesn’t suit them, or maybe they don’t understand what’s required of them.
When faced with difficult problems, it might seem unnecessary spending time tracking them instead of focusing entirely on how to solve them. In reality, problem tracking leads to much faster problem resolution, leaving all project members with free time to attend to other pressing business issues. In particular, it can help in building a repository of knowledge that can serve as reference for other team members in need of solutions.