You’re sitting in a staff meeting where you’ll have to report to upper management about the items your team is working on. You have a stack of paper, a printout of a spreadsheet, or notes scribbled from emails. One of your team members is on vacation, and another called in sick this morning.
Do you know when that information in your hands was last updated? Are items time-stamped by who last did what? Has anything recently come up that your team’s been working on that you haven’t been briefed on yet.
If you’re like most managers, you have enough work of your own to do without micromanaging your team. However, you need to stay in the loop enough to report on everyone’s projects and issues. You’ve been using spreadsheets to capture the most basic details, but it’s not the best solution.
Spreadsheets are static, but your issues aren’t.
Issues are fluid as they move towards final resolution, and at any point during this process you need to see an accurate snapshot of what’s going on. Such is the nature of tracking your issues. Whether you’re managing a help desk, a customer support staff, or other service desk, your issues are anything but static.
Tracking your issues with spreadsheets has inherent shortcomings, most of which are compounded by the static nature of spreadsheets. Here are a list of common complaints that our team hears:
Reporting is time consuming
Depending on your industry, there are a wide range of reports you’ll need to run on your issues. This could involve checking the number of issues submitted or resolved within a time frame. It could be workload balance across the team, or the need to determine trends. Pulling this data from a spreadsheet requires manually manipulating the data or building and updating challenging formulas, often at various repeated intervals such as daily, weekly, or monthly.
Email correspondence is hard to track
How many of your issues are reported by email? Perhaps this goes to a distribution list across your team. When someone replies to the issue, or has back and forth communication with your submitter, how is that captured to the issue? Many users will copy and paste the last email into a field in the spreadsheet. Or copy the entire string into the cell. Even with wrapping the text, or extending the length of the cell, the view is not very organized.
Difficulties arise when multiple users need to make updates
Unless you work alone, there are times when you’ll need your staff to get into the spreadsheet and make updates. Advancements in shared documents like Google Sheets help, but if you have multiple staff members that are adding and changing information, management all of the moving parts can get cumbersome. It’s especially concerning when two people are working on the same issue and one person overwrites data entered by another. How do you know which entry is the most recent
No attachment storage
If you’re working in a help desk, or dealing with customer support or complaint management, often you’ll be working with screenshots, pictures or other attachments to support the issue. Spreadsheets give you no good place to store those attachments. You wind up either keeping them either in email, where they’re more difficult to share, or in a network drive, which can become disorganized if not labeled correctly.
No audit trail
Who changed that value? When did it get updated? Spreadsheets record the latest and greatest changes, but unless you put the old information in a different field, it’s hard to know when items were changed. With multiple users accessing the spreadsheet, there’s no easy-to-read audit trail that helps your team stay accountable when something goes wrong.
No time stamping
Anytime you update a value or add in a new issue, there’s no automatic timestamp that populates. Sure, you can manually add dates, but like most manually adjusted data, it’s easy to mistype or change. If you’re copying and pasting emails, unless you get the header information, there’s no way to tell when something comes in or was replied to.
No alerts when issues are assigned
A new issue comes in and you or another team member logs it in the spreadsheet, but assigns it to someone else. How do they know they have a new issue? You might tell them by sending them a quick email, or instant message, or text, or even a phone call. But with any manual process, human error invariably can cause things to fall through the cracks.
No notifications when updates occur
When your customer or end user sends you their issue, you want to acknowledge it in some way. You might even have auto-responders on your email, or called responses that your team manually sends out when they put the issue into the spreadsheet. However, when your team works towards the resolution of the issue, are they notifying the submitter along the way? Maybe you’re sending them an email on the resolution, but there’s no automatic notification for your submitters. That’s another manual process your team has to keep track of.
There has to be better way, right? Luckily, there is: issue tracking software like Issuetrak is designed to help you work smarter, not harder. Read more details about how Issuetrak solves these pain points.
If any of these problems resonate with you and you’re ready to move beyond the static nature of spreadsheets, see how Issuetrak can work for you and talk to one of our product experts today!
Check out our ebook, A Tale of Two Issues, for more info!