The Big Picture

I have been working with my client for a very long time. They have many sites all over the United States. And their sites are big (a lot of workers). All trouble tickets are controlled by a centralized system. This system controls prioritization of problems. It also supports assignment of problems to divisions in the organization, as well as to individuals. There is automatic e-mail notification if you set it up. And there are alerts that fire when problems are not fixed in required times. This is just an overview of this complex trouble ticket system.

Our specific project is required to keep updating the status of tickets that are assigned to us. Normally we only let our help desk personnel actually interface with the system. The rest of the staff on our project uses a separate, smaller problem tracking system. The tool of choice for us is IBM Rational Clearquest. In fact, our customer requires we use this system since they have a license for it. The basic flow is that trouble tickets are created in our system by the help desk, transcribed from the customers trouble ticket system. We update the tickets in our own system. And the help desk transcribes the status back to the customer system.

The dual system has a number of benefits. Status updates can be controlled and sanitized for customer viewing. We have a much smaller data set in our local trouble ticket system. And we are also at liberty to modify our own system as we see fit. There is some overhead and delay associated with keeping the two systems in sync. I plan to describe more of our setup, and also other setups I have encountered in the past.

The Hunt for Bugs

I work in the world of software maintenance. Even though maintenance involves a lot of tasks, the most important is resolving software bugs. A key tool for this activity is a good bug tracking system. I am starting a blog to discuss this aspect of software maintenance.

The advantage I have, like some other developers, is that I have worked on a lot of projects in my career. And each of them tracked bugs in different ways. I intend to review the mechanics of these techniques to sort out the good from the bad. In the end it might boil down to people issues. But I believe the bug tracking systems make a big difference too.

At my current position we have migrated from using PVCS Tracker to IBM Rational Clearquest. So why don't I start with the use of Clearquest, and the processes that go along with it to track problem resolution.