Sat. Jan 21st, 2023

Handling issues

What Is Issue Management?

Issues are anything that come up in the course of your project to impact the plan. Issues might be previously defined risks, or not. What you want to avoid is a form of collective project amnesia where issues come up and never get resolved. (Issues have a funny way of resurfacing when they don’t get resolved.)

Issue management in a project begins with a plan that defines activities and business rules to manage and control issues that arise during a project.

Types of Project Issues

Of course, the first thing you need to do for issue management is to identify the issues. There can be many issues, some of which fall under these four categories.

  1. Major Problem: one that could impede progress or the successful completion of the project and requires immediate attention.
  2. Opportunity: not all issues are bad, some can offer an unforeseen opportunity.
  3. Concern: is not a major problem, but it’s something you want to stay aware of, because it could develop into something that requires attention.
  4. Situation: is another issue that might be a concern or a major problem, but develops from a situational standpoint.

Some examples of these issues are problems with staff of suppliers, technical failures, material shortages or delays and super-successful promotion.

8 Steps for Managing Issues

There is so much to know about issue management. It’s a big topic, and one that every project manager will have to deal with during their project.

Unlike risk, an issue is not a potential problem. An issue is happening in the here and now.

Managing issues is no different than managing a project in that it requires a process and a plan to implement the strategy. These steps will help you have a framework to control issues as they arise in your project.

1. Create Register

The only way to start is by identifying issues and collecting them in a document, so that you can start to respond and track progress resolving them. Ideally create a collaborative document online. In the same way you might manage risks or changes, you want to manage issues by tracking them in a log or register. Without a process or a tool to report on the issue, it’ll be lost in the shuffle of the project. You need to report on issues and notify others, so that others can confirm if the issue remains.

2. Report Promptly

Timing is important. If you allow reporting to lag, you lose the opportunity to resolve the issue before it becomes too large to fix or requires so many resources as to be a project-buster. Communication is key and channels must be open to get that information out to the right people as fast as possible. If you’re reporting promptly, you better resolve promptly. Sitting on a known issue is asking for trouble.

3. Log Issues

Make sure people know who can log issues and that they do so. If there isn’t someone who logs the issue, then you are going to have issues falling through the cracks. That makes more cracks in your project until it eventually just falls apart. You want to keep a detailed record of this process. There is nothing too small. It might seem insignificant to you, but it could hold the key to unlocking the solution to the issue. Plus, a log provides an archival tool for future use.

4. Assign Actions

Put a name next to an action, too, so there is clear responsibility defined. Issues are only resolved when there is clear ownership, someone who is tasked with identifying, tracking and closing the issue. You need to have a point person who is tasked with everything related to that issue and doesn’t move on from it until the issue is closed. Accountability is critical in issue management.

5. Monitor Progress

Are people following up on their action items? Validate status regularly. The status of the issue is a crucial distinction. If the issue has been resolved but resources are still working on it unnecessarily, then that’s another issue. Notify everyone frequently. To prevent allocating unneeded resources to an issue, you want to have complete transparency. Everyone must know the status of the issue to work most efficiently. Project dashboards can keep everyone aware of the issue status.

6. Assess Impact

Define escalation scale and make sure the actions taken are being measured. But escalate appropriately. You don’t want to throw all your resources where only some are needed. That said, you also don’t want to create any unnecessary roadblocks to stall a speedy recovery.

7. Approve Resolution

Make sure that issues are double-checked after they are marked as resolved. While there is an owner to the issue, there must be someone who is managing the process, so they can check the work and make sure it aligns with the overall project and strategic goals of the organization. Only once all those ducks are in a row can the issue be closed.

8. Close It Out

That’s when we come to our final step. Closing the issue. Move resolved issues off the list. That feels good, doesn’t it?