I think we’re making progress at work. This past week we had a series of meetings to go over the issues that have cropped up. We discussed each issue in a very detailed manner by going into the system to see what is wrong. This methodology, while time consuming, is a very good way of enabling us to see the issue rather than assuming we understand. It may take a while, (and we’ve been spending an hour on one or two issues), but in the end it will be well worth it. Already, the folks on our side are happier because they see the vendor really digging into the issues, and the vendor is starting to gain traction on the problems.
I just wished one of the girls hadn’t quit earlier in the week.
What is this idea they are using?
Well, the vendor has this ticket system that they use and it works really well as a communication vehicle between the vendor’s support people and their clients (us). We log in a ticket when we come across an issue and they pull it up and start working on it. I’m sure this ticket system is like any other typical ticket system. One problem though: there is no way to pull a report of all of the issues or to download any information. We have 100+ issues right now and the only way of seeing the magnitude of the problems or of conceiving any patterns is to have a general one page (or 2 or 3 pages) report to see at a glance.
This is where I come in. I created a spreadsheet and inputted all of the open tickets I found in their ticket system plus some issues that my colleagues had offline (in other words, there were some issues that they hadn’t logged yet). Part of the information included are: issue #, ticket #, date logged, completed date, aging date if not completed, all properties or specific property, priority (high, medium, low), risk, responsible person, source (where I found the issue), estimated fix date, and description of issue.
This spreadsheet also has some color coding using conditional formatting. The aging column has red, yellow and green, depending on how long the problem has been around, where red stood for 5 or more days, yellow 3 -5 days, and green completed. The estimated fix date has the same kind of color coding too. Right now, too many issues are in the red stage but it’s going to get better.
In the meetings, our vendor is using this spreadsheet which makes me think they may not have something similar (although there are some issues on the spreadsheet that are not in the ticket system). He is using it and altering it to help suit his style of problem solving. Which is good – he is taking my spreadsheet and altering it to build something better. He has started to create categories (which I had begun just before the series of meetings) and a response column.
[divider] The Teaching Moment [/divider]
The moral of this story is that you need both the details and the overview in order to manage problems or projects or businesses. And don’t be afraid to create some tools to help you run your project, even if it is just a Microsoft spreadsheet. From there, allow the team to build on your work.