Best system for tracking questions and clarifications on project tasks?
September 17, 2013 9:48 AM   Subscribe

When tracking tasks on a project, what's the best tool you've found for logging the follow-up questions and answers? Trac? Jira? Something else?

In my consulting work with clients, this happens a lot:

Someone creates a task (a bug report, a feature request, whatever) and it goes into whatever system we have. Then, I have questions about it, and there's a week of back-and-forth while we pin down exactly what the person needs.

I want to capture this dialog.

I've used a variety of systems at various times, including Redmine, Jira, Basecamp, custom solutions, and of course spreadsheets. I wasn't a huge fan of Basecamp; everything else has had its good and bad points.

What has worked best for you, and why?

I'd really like to find something that supports email notifications AND replies (I've found that some users just don't follow up on things if they have to go to a website, but they'll reply to things in email).

A free solution would be great, but not essential.

I can host it myself if that's required for the best tool.

posted by kristi to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
OTRS has the best conversation-capture mechanism I've ever worked with.

Don't even attempt to use it unless you're _awesome_ at figuring out complex programs on your own. It was definitely a bear. Great product once we got it up and running, but a bear to get it to that point.
posted by bfranklin at 9:55 AM on September 17, 2013

Best answer: We use Asana for household tasks and this convo tracking is one of the features we really like
posted by brilliantine at 10:01 AM on September 17, 2013

I like Trello.
posted by rada at 10:36 AM on September 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've used JIRA for that previously. The upside is that everything is time stamped and searchable. The downside is that after a certain amount of data ("issues" really) it becomes very difficult to find things unless you're really careful at organizing things..

I'll be watching this for more suggestions.
posted by aeighty at 11:04 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have used Squish. It's not free (and not all that cheap either), but it does support the email functionality you're looking for. Don't know how it compares to some of the other options mentioned here because I have not used them, but it's WAY preferable to, say, a spreadsheet solution, or trying to keep track of email threads.
posted by fikri at 11:55 AM on September 17, 2013

Jira for the tasks and Confluence (wiki) for longer term specifications or more involved design stuff. Recent versions of Jira allow you to add issue links to Confluence pages, and Confluence has a Jira issue macro. If requests have a visual component we use Balsamiq mockups and stick them on the wiki or put an image export of them with the ticket.

Also in Jira if you receive an email about the subject and there's an existing ticket, just change the email subject to the ticket id (DEV-123 or whatever) and forward it and it'll become a comment.

n.b. Of course these aren't free products. If you don't have someone else paying for the tools as an expense, something free might be better.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:59 PM on September 17, 2013

You might take a look at Attask, Smartsheet, dotProjects, Mantis, Goplan, Teambox, and Proofhub. I like Trello a lot but not sure it does everything you want.

Also definitely visit this Q&A site about project management for ideas and to get answers to questions:
posted by Dansaman at 2:14 PM on September 17, 2013

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