Microsoft Lists: A closer look at the Issue Tracker template

As part of the Microsoft Lists roll-out you will have access to a number of ready-made templates, including the Issue Tracker. According to the Microsoft Lists Look Book, the Issue Tracker template helps to “track, manage and bring issues to a close by making it easy to set priorities in the status column and send notifications to team members when issues arise”.

Prior to the Issue tracker template we had the SharePoint Issue Tracking app. Issue Tracking has been around since SharePoint 2007 and has proven itself useful for projects and support operations alike but was in need of updating.

For a detailed look at the Issue Tracker list details checkout Hugo Bernier’s excellent blog post Getting to know Microsoft Lists.

Getting started with the Issue Tracker is very straight forward. Start by navigating to Microsoft Lists, click “New list” and then select “Issue tracker”.

Review the sample and click “Use template”.

Provide a name, color, icon and storage location (OneDrive aka “My lists” or SharePoint) and then click “Create”. I am using “My lists” in this example.

The newly created Issue Tracker will look similar to the images below.

Comparing Issue Tracker to Issue Tracking will help highlight the value of the new template and also show some areas for improvement.

ItemIssue Tracker (New)Issue Tracking (Old)Comments
Issue columnYesYesCalled “Title” in Issue Tracking.
Issue descriptionYesYesCalled “Description” in Issue Tracking.
PriorityYesYesBoth lists have the “Priority” column but Issue Tracker provides more meaningful categories and column formatting. There is big value added by visually highlighting important items through column formatting.
StatusYesYesBoth list have a status column but Issue Tracker provides more meaningful categories and column formatting. Again, big value added by visually highlighting important items through column formatting.

Called “Issue Status” in Issue Tracking.
Person or group the issue is assigned toYesYesIssue Tracker uses a profile image in-place of the name. If there is no profile image then a default avatar is used. Hovering over the image will provide the name. Issue Tracking uses only the name. A combination of the two (image and name) would be better IMO.

Called “Assigned To” in Issue Tracking.
Date reportedYesNoThis is very practical and better represents real world for project and operational task management.
Days oldYesNo“Days old” is a calculated column and provides metrics for issue age. Column formatting helps to draw visual attention to items to older than 30 days old. The “Days old” calculation can be misleading, IMO, for some items where the “Status” is set to “Completed”, “By design” or “Won’t fix”.
Issue sourceYesNoThe column description reads “Where was the issue logged (ticket, customer support call etc.)” . Using this column to specify a page, form, report etc. helps to streamline the issue resolution process by “physically” pinpointing the issue.
ImagesYesNoImages is an odd one to me. There is no way to add the image through the New/Edit form or Quick Edit. Follow up on my part is required to understand if this behavior is by design.
Associated filesYesYesCalled “Attachments” in Issue Tracking.
Issue logged byYesNoLike “Date reported”, this is very practical and better represents real world for project and operational task management.
Related IssuesNoYesThis is very practical for connecting complex issues. Heavy usage of Related Issues should prompt a revaluation of another advanced tool like MS Project IMO.
CommentsNoYesThis is very practical and a great way to keep teams up to date.
Due DateNoYesThis is very practical and better represents real world for project and operational task management.
View – All ItemsYesYesIssue Tracking does not include all columns. Not a big a deal but I have always found this odd.

Called “All Issues” in Issue Tracking.
View – Issues by priorityYesNoSimple yet effect way of viewing items by priority. At scale I would expect this to a time saver for users.
View – Issues grouped by statusYesNoThis is great way of viewing items by status.
View – Issues grouped by person assigned toYesNoThis is very practical and better represents real world for project and operational task management.
View – Active IssuesNoYesDefinitely useful at scale.
View formattingYesNoWhen an item is “Blocked” the row is highlighted in red. This adds so much to the usability of the view by visually highlighting items that need the most attention.
Workflow / Workflow optionsYesYesNo list specific “built-in” workflows but “Automate” options are available.

“Set a reminder” works well out-of-the-box especially for the Issue Tracking (old) app because it uses the “EndDate” column.

The new Issue Tracker template is a great choice for project and operational task management. The out-of-the-box experience works well but more value can be added through the addition of new columns, views, column formatting and most of all automation. In my next blog post I will outline some of those changes.

Thanks for reading.

NY

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