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

20 thoughts on “Microsoft Lists: A closer look at the Issue Tracker template

  1. There is one problem with this App. The Conversation panel is too small. Can you add option to move it from left vertical position to horizontal and below the issue description ?

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      1. Hi Norm, yes. When I add Issue Tracker in Teams Application and add Item to it, then I would like to work on that specific issue, but the Conversation panel is very tiny, there is no way to paste larger table or some source code. I am guessing that this Conversation panel is meant to be viewed in mobile apps rather than via client Teams Application. I noticed that first comment left in Conversation Panel gives me later option to comment on that specific issue in Post section, but then I see all the past issues with comments as well. If the Conversation Panel was arranged in horizontal manner (rather than vertical), this would allow me to work on current issue and the comments would be limited to the current issue as well.

        To visualize the problem better. Let’s say I have 10 issues created in Issue Tracker App (added via Add New Item). After clicking each issue I would like to see all the comments related to this specific issue only and the comment section should occupy most of the screen for better viewing experience. I think implementation of simple option that would allow to change viewing style of Conversation Panel would be great.

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  2. Is there any way to add a column/field where I can paste images? I don’t want to upload images as files – I want to make them immediately visible and part of the issue text 🙂

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    1. Hi Thomas,

      As far as I know, this is not possible. Your choices are:
      – Are adding the image by URL via an “Image” column
      – Or by attachment to the List item

      It’s a valid request and my first inclination was to use the rich text features in the “Multiple lines of text” column type but pasted images do not persist after being saved.

      Thanks for reading!

      NY

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  3. Hi Norm,

    In most of the templates related to trackers, I see these extra columns “Issue”, “Work Item”, etc. What is the logic behind these columns? I am assuming they are tied to title. In case I would like to create such columns from scratch how is it done?

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    1. Hi Sai,

      You are correct “Issue” from Issue tracker and “Work Item” from “Work progress tracker” are Title columns behind the scenes. You can rename “Title” to anything that you like by clicking “Column settings” and then “Rename”.

      I hope this helps.

      Thanks for reading.

      NY

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  4. Looks great ! Unfortunately, I’m unable to get the Issue Tracker installed. It proceeds to about 80% along the progress indicator, then stalls. Same results in the web or desktop app….
    Any thoughts ?

    EM

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  5. While assigning tasks to multiplier team members – is it possible to restrict the data basis the team member only, i,.e the team member can see only his tasks (instead of the whole team tasks.)

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    1. Hello Rajat,

      No, unfortunately, you cannot restrict List rows by users. Lists allow you to restrict by item (row) creator but that’s it. You can use Views to hide the data but that does not secure it.

      For situations where security is paramount consider Dataverse or Dataverse for Teams.

      Thanks for reading!

      NY

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  6. Is there a way to change the description text for Attachment? In the template, it says “Any other files associated with the issue”. I would like to change that.

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  7. We found the issue tracker very useful.
    I wonder is there a way to either making mandatory or getting filled automatically “issue logged by” field?
    We lose control as we do not find who opened a particular case.

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    1. Hi Gregory,

      You can make the “Issue logged by” field required by editing the column settings and making “Require that this column contains information” to “Yes”. As far as I know, you cannot include a default value.

      Thanks for reading!

      NY

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