Vendor Tools for Tracking Service Issues

MEDITECH has a terrific customer web site. They were one of my first vendors to log all of the service issues using a web tool that was shared by the customer and the vendor. They do a great job of documenting everything related to an issue, even the phone calls. It is great to be able to read the complete history of a problem.

Because of this system, I can tell you that Affinity has 204 open issues. While that may seem like a lot, it really isn’t when you consider the breadth of applications and the size of the organization. I can tell you that none of them are significant (you don’t have to turn off your mobile phone, Priscilla).

It amazes me the number of vendors that still don’t have an online system for tracking service issues (Amicas comes to mind). Some use Excel spreadsheets to track issues. When you are going through a major implementation and issues are by the minute, it doesn’t work to have a tool that only one person can update. We use our own tools (QuickBase or SharePoint) when our vendor doesn’t have one.

Update: Amicas now has a great web-based service tracking tool.

Some issue tracking systems could be better. Our health plan uses products from QCSI to manage that line of business. They have an online issue tracking system. But it could be better. In our service agreement we went through painstaking efforts to define levels of issues and acceptable response times to each level. However, their issue tracking tool does not allow us, or them, to specify which level issue is being reported. Consequently, they have no basis to provide us the promised support and we have no basis for knowing if we are getting the promised level of support.

In our selection processes we always ask new vendors how they manage service issues. This is an important consideration to me.

Back to the MEDITECH customer web site – I am not going to let them totally off the hook. They have had a greyed out link to a “CIO Portal” for a number of months with a little icon claiming that is is coming soon. I guess “soon” is a relative term.

Look for my next post soon.

6 thoughts on “Vendor Tools for Tracking Service Issues

  1. Good stuff, Meditech’s documentation and support processes are fantastic – now if we can just get a database with transaction logging, I can sleep better at night.

  2. Rob, my MEDITECH sources tell me the Meditech does add transaction logging into v6 on the Client/Server platform. A restful night is coming.

  3. I too am amazed that most vendors still use spreadsheets for issue tracking. In 10 years of working as a vendor, I have never worked for a company that did it well. As an implementation project manager, it’s essential that I have the latest information on all issues. My company is in the process of enhancing our service tools to better handle issue tracking, but it’s taken me 4 years to convince them of it. I can’t tell you how nice it will be to focus on the issue rather than where the issue is.

    Will Oliver

  4. Meditech’s service is terrific. I just don’t understand why their KLAS rating isn’t better. Does KLAS really represent sthe viewpoints of CIOs and other executives in our industry?

  5. Why wouldnt a vendor just set up a blog with categories for tracking for each client? Easy, viewable, searchable? Maybe that’s too simple for most IT issues, but there are lots of project gourpware software out there (basecamp, etc) that are free or cheap to run

  6. I can tell you that some organizations feel that they DON’T want the customer to have access to problem tracking, because they don’t want the customer to know who’s working on any given problem. I know, an extract is possible, or something that says ‘customer can see a subset’, but thats the logic.

    While you’re at it, a customer-searchable database of problems would be nice, too. Having to wait for the help desk to do it can be a pain.

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