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Where is that email... Use a bug tracker!

By Ryan Lambert -- Published August 05, 2013

Warning: This post is outdated. It is here for reference purposes only.

This is the first of what I suspect will turn into many posts related to bug tracking. I have recently implemented a new Bug Tracker for a company I work for, BCS Group. I think this was the single best improvement I could make for our overall efficiency, and we're well under a month in! This is not a discussion of why I chose Mantis over so many of the other great options out there, that is a story for another day.

That Email

To properly illustrate how this is such a huge benefit for our workflow, let me give you an example: The office email chain. It all starts when Beth emails Jill about why the thing-a-ma-jig rotators hadn't arrived yet. Being a very important part, she flagged the email as important so everyone can see the (!) or whatever it is you see when someone else thinks highly of their own message. On that topic, is that supposed to mean it needs to be done right away? Or is it just the weekly menu and everyone needs to know that burgers and beer are free today? I digress. Jill responds shortly after and answers her question, explaining that the truck driver had a flat and was running behind. She doesn't end there, though, Jill proceeds to fill in Beth on recent happenings and family updates. Amongst one of these random, personal emails, Jill asks Beth about the proper configuration of the corporate firewall. More emails fly, one of which contains the answer.

Many of you have had to answer this next question before. "Two weeks ago we talked about that firewall config," (wait for it...) " in that email. We need exactly your answer." Now, you're trying to scan through 562 emails between two or more people, looking for the unrelated topic, and hoping, just hoping that you all correctly remember it was two weeks ago and not three... Sound familiar?

The Solution

Do not try to eliminate email. People will send emails no matter what system you try to tell them is better so don't fight it. Another reality: Any conversation about any topic will overlap with other conversations of other related topics. Don't try to tell me that databases and beer have nothing in common! It's that overlap that gets hard to manage because you never have enough "buckets" to organize things by. No, here's the original scenario, just this time utilizing a bug tracking system along with email.

Beth and Jill have a Mantis Bug Tracking system that has been setup to help them work efficiently. Beth needs to know when the thinga-ma-jig rotators will be here, so she creates an issue in Mantis including the same basic content she originally emailed. Next, she assigns the issue to Jill which sends an automatic email to Jill's account saying that Beth assigned her something along with all the needed information. She clicks on the link in the email to take her to the issue in Mantis. Jill then changes the status to feedback and adds a note saying that the truck was running behind, it will be here in 45 minutes. Beth gets an automatic email with the information included.

Now, thinking a lot has happened lately, Jill sends an email on the side to Beth. This conversation still led to the same firewall config question but this time instead of answering the question in the email, Beth creates a new issue in Mantis with the summary of "Create Corporate Firewall config best practices document." Beth then answers the question directly in the issue so anyone, Jill included, can see it. Now when the topic comes up again in two weeks, or six weeks in real time, Beth knows that even if the task hasn't been created yet, her original answer is just a quick query away.

See how easy that was?

By Ryan Lambert
Published August 05, 2013
Last Updated April 13, 2019