Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Technical Query vs. Technical Issue

What is the difference between a technical query and a technical issue? And, how do you track them when the projects are maintaning all their queries and issues in email?

In my mind, this is how I distinguish between a technical query and a technical issue. The design team receives a set of requirements to implement. When analyzing the requirements, they encounter a vague or poorly worded requirement such as “the product must be user friendly.” A technical query would be a question back to the requirements provider asking him or her what is meant by this statement. Or a technical query might be a question asking for more detailed technical information so the design team can make the proper design decisions. In contrast a technical issue arises when there is a conflict between requirements, between new or modified requirements and the existing design, between the requirements and the product, several possible design alternatives, etc. A technical issue may require a trade study or research in order to provide the correct information to resolve the issue, basically invoking Decision Analysis and Resolution (DAR).

As far as tracking this information, that is up to the organization to decide on a method that best fits their business practices. Queries could be tracked via email. But I would think a better method would be to include the queries with the requirements so you would capture the history and discussion of any unclear requirements in one location. When you think about it, technical queries are part of the knowledge capture for understanding the requirements. For tracking technical issues, you can perform this action in a variety of ways. Many organizations track all issues the same way in an Issues Log or Issues Tracking System. There are many off the shelf tracking systems that basically have the same functionality.

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