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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You Have Issues

Issues are going to happen on your projects. What is an issue you may ask? I define a project issue as “any event or circumstance that could alter the project schedule, budget, scope, quality or otherwise impact a project in a negative way”.

To manage issues properly you must log them, and ensure they are resolved quickly so they don’t negatively affect your project. Managing project issues is a very simple process; however we need to follow a few guidelines. Steps to take include:

Identify the Issue

This should always be done in writing. Any project team member can submit an issue to the project manager, however the project manager may choose to ignore the issue or even alter the project scope depending on circumstances.

Review the Issue

Review the issue with all concerned. Prioritize the issue and access any risks.

Log the Issue and assign ownership

When creating an issues log include at a minimum:

Write a clear and concise issue description 

Prioritize the issue based upon potential impact(s) to the project or deliverables 

Capture the date the issue was opened, date issue is expected to be resolved, and actual resolved date

Note the person responsible for resolving the issue (don’t make this a group or team. Always specify a person here.)

Have a notes column to log updates about the issue

Issue Monitoring

Request that issue owners update the issues log (or send you updates) at least weekly. Review the issues list with all core team members on a regular basis.

Issue Closure

When an issue is resolved, update the issues log with any pertinent information and close the issue.

A good issue management process will let the project sponsor know when and where issues are occurring. Additionally, an issues list is a great way to communicate to the project stakeholders about problems or concerns that are being addressed by the team. Many times an issue can cause a Scope Change Request to be generated if the issue isn’t properly managed.

In closing, conduct regular reviews of all open issues with the team and review progress towards resolving the issues. Manage issues daily, and work to resolve them quickly so they don’t become major problems on your project.


Bruce Lofland said...

An issue must impact one of the dimensions of the project if not dealt with to be tracked as a project issue. I have noticed that project managers sometimes get confused between risks and issues. There has been a lengthy debate about this on LinkedIn related to a post on my blog about this Project risk or Issue?

Jacek WojcieszyƄski said...

Very good stuff. I can even imagine that issue management can replace project management in a small projects.


ProjectSteps said...

Jacek, I agree with you.

Bruce, well said.

Thanks for the feedback!