The value of a company is the stored internal value of its information system. An internal forum for employees is a great way to enhance this value, to exchange with colleagues and help to manage issues.
An internal forum can also be a great way for new employees and existing employees to exchange information about the way the company operates. These concepts started with intranets and have now extended to internal workspaces.
I remember a customer who wanted an internal issue list to include both his and my comments real-time, shared between two companies. The tools available were Excel by mail or SharePoint, but neither responded to the requirement.
An in-house wiki
A wiki would have been appropriate as they track changes beautifully while maintaining a coherent top-level document. Issues management can use a wiki by stating the problem and then progressively updating with solutions.
Use an in-house forum to manage issues
Use the excellent comment and re-comment function of the discussion as each person contributes. The problem here though is how to get a quick view of status without having to read the whole thread.
There must be then, successful team issue management systems which allow both for chronological commenting and for a kind of management summary quick view and traffic lights which show overall status. I’d like to see them in action and compare with the difficulties experienced at the time and see what solutions are available.
The challenge is to capture the detailed data, technical or otherwise, and yet maintain a management level. In my one-person outfit, I don’t have those challenges of sharing and comprehension. However, the issues are many, the subjects broad and the sources of information highly varied.
Manage issues with a database
You cannot manage or solve a problem without stating the central question. Sometimes it is not possible to express the problem directly, just its observed characteristics.
Structure of a business issue
State the problem, which I call the observation,
Describe the possible cause,
Suggest a solution,
A conclusion field is used to describe the closure
link to a source, typically a link to a forum article.
Additional fields such as status, domain, category, project, priority and urgency used for categorisation and filtering which work well for me. I wonder how it would hold up in a team environment.
In practice, I have moved away from using Microsoft Access. I now use Evernote to store and manage all issues without the database structure above. I tend simply to record the issues and retain the concepts above of cause, resources and next action.
The next step would be to implement a template in Evernote to formalised the above structure.