It’s by overcoming difficult business challenges that business analysts grow. When unresolved problems are ignored, they may become annoying hindrances that slow down the progress of projects and make us, and the whole organization, look bad. When problems are approached head-on and resolved in a timely manner however, the pace of the project is greatly accelerated, which brings us closer to achieving our goals.
The objective of problem tracking is to provide an organized approach to the tracking, management, and resolution of defects, issues, problems, and risks encountered when carrying out business analysis activities. The key importance of problem tracking is seldom evident when there are just two or three problems to overcome at the same time; it doesn’t take much to stay organized in such situations. It gets much more complicated, however, when the number of problems increases, especially in the early phases of software development projects.
Why Use Problem Tracking?
The first and the most obvious reason why business analysts should embrace problem tracking is that it helps ensure that issues are not neglected or abandoned. When a thorny issue is encountered, and the solution isn’t immediately obvious, don’t take a backseat hoping that someone else will take care of it. If you do, the issue might never get resolved and its scale or extent may become enlarged in time. Problem tracking exposes unresolved issues and facilitates their timely resolution from the point of identification till a suitable solution is implemented.
By methodically organizing unresolved issues, problem tracking also makes it easier to allocate resources to solving problems in a timely manner. Eliminating problems quickly and efficiently means that their negative impacts can be either minimized or downright eliminated.
Last but not the least, problem tracking exposes the root causes of problems. The last thing you as a business analyst want is to deal with the same problems again and again, without identifying and tackling its root cause.
Here are three common questions you should ask yourself when evaluating the feasibility of any proposed solution:
1. Does the solution address the problem, as defined by the business? That is, will it address the root cause of the problem?
2. Is the solution feasible to implement? Consider the economic, technical and cultural feasibility of implementing the solution, to mention a few.
3. How well can you measure whether the issue has been properly resolved? How does the business define the success that comes from solving the problem?
Elements of Problem Tracking
When tracking problems, the first step is to create a clear and concise record of each problem with its description, impact, priority, data, owner, status, and any other relevant information.
The next step is to track and manage the recorded problems to be resolved. Don’t forget to record metrics that tell you how efficiently you were able to solve the recorded problems.
At the end of the day, problem records won’t actually solve problems for you. Problems need to be assigned to competent team members and progress should be monitored until final resolution. Problem tracking is a useful technique that can make business analysis much easier, especially when dealing with complicated projects.