The Best Issue Tracking Tools in 2023 (Hint: It’s Not Jira.)
It would be absurd to let one more day in 2023 pass without addressing what the best issue tracking tools for software developers are in 2023. This is especially true if your New Year’s Resolution is to break up with Jira.
In software development, issue tracking systems provide the necessary support to ensure that all issues are addressed in a timely manner, which is good, as opposed to an untimely manner, which is bad. In this article, we’ll go over what you need to know about tracking issues effectively, which is good, as opposed to tracking issues ineffectively, which is bad.
Small projects, for example, may be easy to track with spreadsheets or to-do lists, or even post-its and little scraps of paper (remember paper?), if you’re into that kind of thing. For small projects, maybe even a simple task management system could work, if you like to-do lists on a screen instead of on paper (anyone?), and are into that kind of thing.
But when it comes to larger, more complex projects - projects that involve building and shipping awesome software - the sheer volume of tasks alone and the number of key persons involved make it much harder to keep track of everything. That’s when you need an issue tracking system. And one that is not Jira. More on this below.
📚 Read more: The Software Developer’s Guide to Choosing the Right Kanban Board Software
What are issue tracking systems?
What a great question. Issue tracking systems are the tools that provide teams with a system to log and update the progress of each issue. These issues, or ‘tickets,’ are ideally tracked through the system until they are fully resolved or addressed.
An issue can be anything from a customer question or complaint (oh no) to a bug report. In software development, it’s typically a bug or something else that needs to be updated as the project goes along.
When the issue is noticed, a ticket is created and tracked until it’s resolved. The system provides team members with updates whenever a ticket changes status so that the next step or action can be taken.
These issues are usually assigned to individual team members depending on what needs to be done to them - until they are resolved.
Issue tracking systems are commonly used by customer service and software development teams to prevent crucial issues from falling through the cracks. You know what happens when issues fall through the cracks? Bad things, that’s what.
Other types of teams that deal with high volumes of requests and issues or cases that need tracking also use this type of software. For example, IT service desks may use issue tracking software to monitor tickets filed by employees concerning hardware and software issues.
Benefits of issue tracking in software development
Most software development teams have some sort of issue tracking system already in place. Otherwise, development issues would be impossible to track given the sheer volume of tickets that need to be addressed regularly.
In its simplest form, a tracking system can technically be maintained with a tool like Excel or Google Sheets. Or, again, even post-it notes, as if it’s 1985. However, this quickly becomes too complicated as the number of issues grows. And it’s not 1985. It’s 2022, as we’ve all collectively established, by agreeing to type 2 instead of 1 from now on, for the next 12 months.
Aside from efficient bug tracking, let’s go over the benefits of using an actual tool for issue tracking at your organization.
An issue tracking tool typically allows multiple team members to work on issues simultaneously, as well as assign issues to each other whenever needed.
This helps everyone follow the updates in real time and resolve them as quickly as possible. This is a good thing for everyone involved. Win.
Issue tracking software helps teams communicate and collaborate better when it comes to bug tracking and time tracking, among others.
Integrations with other tools
When your issue tracking tool is integrated with other tools and apps that your team uses, you can centralize your data in one location and avoid data silos.
For example, if the tool of your choice doesn’t have a ticketing system of its own, then you can pick one that integrates with a ticketing tool.
Ideally, an efficient tracking system should be able to integrate with a wide variety of tools to ensure maximum efficiency and data centralization.
Analytics and reporting
It’s always a good idea to track your team’s progress and optimize team performance whenever you can. You can also create goals for your team and see if you’re reaching them month by month - that’s all the months of 2022 and beyond.
Issue tracking systems usually provide great insights concerning project issues, timelines, and other aspects of development through data analytics and reporting.
By looking at data, you can discover historical trends and make adjustments concerning project delivery timelines, issue resolution, and others.
Doing things manually can add up and eventually become tedious, taking away precious time from resolving issues and doing important development work.
Automation can help teams assign tasks, answer typical queries, and sort through tickets per priority. Such automation features help save time that can be reallocated to more productive work.
Read more: How to choose the best software development project management tool
Some typical features of issue tracking software
Issue tracking systems may vary in structure, but some of the most important features you should look for in tracking software are:
- Capability to assign issues to key persons (testers, developers, customer support staff, etc.)
- Real-time updates to monitor how issues are being handled and how much time is being spent on them
- Ability to show an overview of a project/multiple projects to ensure that processes are followed seamlessly and according to internal workflows
- Helpful analytics and reporting on typical issues or processes and the time it takes to complete each one
- If needed, automatic generation of tickets based on customer inquiries or general feedback in the tool
- Integration with other project management and development tools; or are built within a PM tool to ensure the whole process is as smooth as possible
A comparison of some issue tracking systems on the market in 2023
So, what is the best tool, then? Which one should your team use?
Picking the right issue tracking system can be tricky, especially if you want to balance functionality with flexibility. However, having one will help your team become more efficient, especially in tracking tickets that need to be addressed immediately. So let’s take a look at some.
Released in 2002 (wow - does anyone remember this year?), Atlassian’s Jira software is one of the oldest issue tracking systems available. A bit dated, don’t you think? As one of the first tools to specialize in issue tracking, Jira provides a system for developers and testers to report and resolve issues, sure. Except everyone hates it.
Jira’s complex technical process is one reason for the overwhelming desire software engineers have not to use it.
Alongside the evolution of agile development and project management, many teams across different organizations find the learning curve associated with Jira to be ridiculous and counterproductive.
Although Jira does provide agile support through scrum and Kanban approaches, it remains on the more technical side of things, and is rigid. Non-technical users can’t use it. Therefore a whole organization can’t use it. Therefore the right hand never knows what the left hand is doing.
It’s also slow. There’s also a ridiculous amount of micromanagement that software developers hate.
Honestly, we’ve come a long way from 2002. We’ve come a long way from Jira.
Read More: 9 Signs it’s Time to Breakup with Jira
Linear is an issue tracking tool built for small software development teams. Linear’s tracking system fits with a git-based workflow and provides blocks to provide a tracking system for projects.
Startups and smaller teams generally prefer Linear because of its low-maintenance structure and easy interface. It’s great for less complicated projects that do not need extensive tracking and monitoring or other more sophisticated features.
Asana is another popular issue tracking tool and project management software.
It is also one of the oldest platforms in project management, having been launched in 2008 (remember 2008?). Asana helps teams focus on tasks, projects, and goals according to their work style.
Asana allows its users to assign tasks, share details, set priorities, and set deadlines. It also allows teams to follow tasks and projects as they move along every stage.
But there is no time-tracking feature, assignments are limited, and people outside of the project management may find it difficult to use.
Trello, also by Atlassian, is a general planning tool that primarily uses Kanban boards.
While Trello is not specifically a bug or issue tracker, its Kanban-style structure works for teams that want issues incorporated within their project management tool.
It has a simple, clean interface that looks like to-do lists and allows users to jump between cards and boards across different teams; however, it does not support hierarchies that show relationships between tasks and projects. It’s also not purpose-built for software development with dedicated features, workflows, and reporting.
So, teams that handle more complex projects may find Trello a bit too simple and lacking in functionalities that would allow them to meticulously track and log technical details.
GitHub Issues allows users to track and manage bugs and other issues without leaving GitHub.
Like Jira, GitHub Issues is also on the more technical side but is great for teams working on complex projects and have no problem using code.
As such, the tool is a better match for developers rather than cross-functional teams and non-technical teams.
While it integrates seamlessly with GitHub’s main framework, it lacks the appealing interface that most project managers and teams want to see in their PM and issue tracking systems.
Shortcut! Shortcut is a project management platform that is intuitive and easy to use, and it was built to be both powerful and flexible.
It was also built specifically for software teams, by our software team, so it has built-in features that developers will find useful.
The unique thing about Shortcut, however, is that it was designed for ease of use, so teams across large organizations can effectively collaborate using the tool. So despite the functionalities it affords for software teams, it remains flexible enough even for non-technical users to use. At Shortcut, everyone uses Shortcut.
Users can leave comments, attachments, and labels for effective tracking, and can zoom into a specific task or zoom out to see the project at large.
Bugs and issues can likewise be tracked and updated in real time. Shortcut offers a visual progress tracker as well as helpful analytics to help teams plan out action points and define milestones.
It also offers powerful integrations with various tools and platforms through its API, ensuring that developers and non-developers alike can extend the tool’s functionalities according to their specific needs.
Through it, teams can automate various tasks and reduce overhead costs.
Shortcut is also cloud-based, making it ideal for remote and hybrid teams alike. It offers a dynamic interface that, when applied to issue tracking, allows for a much more efficient system than Trello, for example.
When it comes to assigning tasks and issues, Shortcut users can tag specific team members in each item through cards, which they can come back to later on.
This works better than most issue tracking systems that allow users to simply leave comments and tags, making it more confusing as issues pile up.
Is your 2023 New Year’s resolution to secure the best issue tracking system? Or move away from Jira? If you’ve made it to this part of the article, I assume it is.
We recommend considering an issue tracking tool built in with your project management software because it makes things much easier when everything is in one place, which is good, as opposed to when everything is scattered and you can’t find anything, which is bad.
A tool like Shortcut balances flexibility with function, having been built by software engineers, for software engineers, but also for everyone else in an organization. Shortcut also offers easy import from tools like Jira and Trello, as well as a free trial so you can get a feel of the environment before onboarding.
So goodbye, 2022. Hello, 2023. Let’s get to know each other better this year. Start your free trial today because maybe, just maybe, this is our year, right?