What is an Issue Tracking System?

An issue tracking system is a software program used to monitor problems with a software or service reported by users and developers. One example is a bug tracker used by a software company to keep track of reported defects. Issue tracking systems can also be used by utilities to handle customer complaints, as well as in other customer service settings. Software designed for this purpose is available commercially, although some companies may prefer to develop their own.

In an issue tracking system, individual entries known as “tickets” can be created to track reported issues from the first time someone brings them up until the time they are resolved. The system also has a database of known issues, along with solutions. This can be useful in a customer service setting, where people calling in about a problem can be provided with information on how to address it as quickly as possible when it is a known issue.

The issue tracking system typically has tools for prioritization so companies can rank issues by importance and use this information to make decisions on what to pursue and when. Something like a large security vulnerability would be at the top of the list, for example, while a small problem reported by a handful of users would be towards the bottom. Issue tracking systems can also be used to track feature requests, with developers working on these as they address issues.

Customers usually expect a reasonably fast resolution of a problem and an issue tracking system can keep statistics on how long it takes to resolve issues. It can also provide prompts and reminders so people know to contact customers to keep them updated on progress, and can include spaces for notes on the specifics of a customer’s case. All of this information will be used to improve customer service, in addition to addressing problems.

Many companies have websites allowing people to submit information about issues online. This is intended to facilitate reporting of problems large and small so they can be addressed. Software programs can also have integrated bug reporting features, where they will send messages to the developer about problems users encounter while using the software, if users authorize this. The information is made anonymous as possible for security, although the report to the issue tracking system will include details about the operating system, other programs running at the time, and what the user was doing when an error occurred.