If you notice that your team has been running into a lot more issues in your projects recently, it may be time to re-evaluate and upgrade your issue management activities.
What is Issue Management?
Issue management is a vital project management process that helps teams effectively identify, monitor, analyse and resolve issues that arise throughout the project lifecycle. It often involves applying various tools and processes similar to risk management practices to help minimise disruptions, reduce potential negative impacts on the project and maintain clear visibility and accountability over project issues.
While every organisation and team may implement and execute their issue management activities in different ways, the typical approach generally follows along the lines of five steps:
- Step One: Identify and document the issues
- Step Two: Analyse and prioritise the right issues
- Step Three: Create an issue action plan
- Step four: Monitor progress and execute the issue action plan
- Step Five: Review and improve the issue management process
Read more: Issue Management in Project Management
While these general steps are a great way to get started, we have pulled together some additional tips from our team of PPM experts to make sure you can make the most out of your issue management activities. Here are our top five tips to improve your issue management.
1. Report issues early and check them frequently
This may seem like a no-brainer but you will be surprised how often people forget the most important and foundational rules. Teams can often fall into a false sense of security when they have a built-out risk register and feel that ensuing issues will be easily flagged and addressed. However, issues can also emerge unexpectedly and are not always caught during your risk assessment activities.
Unlike risks that still remain a potential, issues are current and timing is of the essence. Teams need to make sure they are actively monitoring and reporting on issues early to minimise any potential negative impacts they can have on the project. While we would all like our brains to remember everything, we can often miss very critical issues if they are not properly documented on logged. Make sure to routinely set a time to monitor, update and review your issue logs to make sure issues do not fall between the cracks and cost your team the entire project.
2. Use a cloud-based real-time issue management solution
For smaller and less complex projects, a simple spreadsheet may suffice for your issue management needs. However, as projects are becoming increasingly complex and markets are becoming even more fast-paced, reminding your teams to manually update and review your issue management activities may no longer suffice.
By implementing a cloud-based solution, teams can easily track their issue management activities in real-time to make sure they resolve issues as efficiently and effectively as possible. Cloud-based solutions also often come with the benefit of automated alerts and intuitive dashboards so your teams do not suffer from overcommunication where it is not necessary. Additionally, holistic cloud-based solutions like pmo365 are able to integrate seamlessly with other project management activities so your issue management choices are made on accurate and relevant on-the-ground data and conditions.
3. Define a clear escalation process
While having an issue log and allocating an issue owner is a great foundational step, teams can be left scrambling when issues exceed their typical realm of responsibility and power if there is no clear escalation process. Make sure to document and communicate a clear escalation process within your issue management planning activities so team members are always aware of what they are specifically accountable for and who they can turn to when issues escalate beyond their capabilities.
With an unclear escalation process, team members may generate a culture of withholding information in fear that the issue escalates beyond their means without any clear solution. This can be extremely costly in issue management where time is always of the essence and decisions often need to be made swiftly. Rather than waiting for decisions to slowly climb their way up the authority ladder, an escalation process allows teams to effectively bypass any bureaucratic inefficiencies and get straight to resolving the issue at hand.
4. Use a colour coding system
Some of us are much more visual and can benefit from implementing visual aids to help filter and highlight the relevant information. Teams can use different colour coding systems, similar to a traffic light scheme or a heatmap, that can help notify teams of the severity and immediacy of the issue at hand. The typical traffic light scheme can be used to present the following:
- Green: a minor problem that does not require immediate action
- Yellow: a problem that needs to be resolved soon
- Red: a problem that requires immediate action
The traffic light approach can be used in different categories, for example:
- Highlight issue impact (Green indicating it will have little impact, yellow indicating it has some impact and red indicating it will have a significant impact on project success)
- Highlight risk progress (Green indicating that it has been resolved, yellow that action is in progress, and red to show no action has been taken)
With these visual aids, teams can easily prioritise the most crucial issues as well as gain an understanding of the current issue management activities with a single glance. These are particularly useful when paired with a real-time intuitive dashboard that project leaders can easily review, report and analyse at any given moment.
5. Use historic data to actively learn and improve on issue management processes
With the help of great project management software and tools, organisations are gathering and storing more data than ever before. However, many are failing to truly tap into the potential of their available data and are letting it sit there collecting dust. One of the best benefits of our increasingly tech-based project management solutions is that teams can easily tap into historic data and pick up patterns that may not have been apparent in isolation.
By consolidating and story your issue logs in a single space, teams can easily go over and review their issue management processes and performance to identify new opportunities for improvement.
Take your issue management activities to the next level with pmo365
With our intuitive RAID logs and integrative system, pmo365 consolidates all your project-related activities across your organisation onto a single platform to make sure you always have the most accurate data informing your risk and issue management actions. If you want to see how we do that, make sure to see our solution in action with our free trial.