There’s no question that issue management is a big-ticket item on many projects. In my entire project management career, I’ve never managed a project that was completely issue free. And the longer and bigger the project, the more potential for issues, the more likelihood that bigger issues will arise, and absolutely it becomes more critical to identify, track and review those issues.
What do we do to track those issues? Sometimes we just wing it, right? Raise your hand if you sometimes do almost nothing to separately track issues. Raise your hand if you handle them through some handwritten list or through email or similar weakly managed process. It’s ok…admission is the first step in fixing the problem.
The bottom line is we often don’t give issue management and issue tracking enough of a focus to help ensure that we’re properly managing critical problems. We don’t often give it enough attention to ensure that we are not adversely affecting our customers and threatening our projects. Denial, ignorance, or just plain laziness…whatever the reason…it still isn’t good and it’s no excuse. As project managers and experienced project professionals, we need to give as much focus to issue management as we do the rest of our critical project management tasks.
Let’s consider what type of process or system we need. What considerations should there be when deciding how to track issues and what tool or tools we should be using as part of the issue management process? Two key areas of consideration are these: our users and the types of projects we’re managing.
Knowing who will be using the issue management system and processes and how they will be used is an important consideration as you move forward on implementing an issue tracking platform. Are the users technical? Are they key project stakeholders? How many will play a daily role in the projects themselves? And what type of reporting will be required for each type of issue management platform user? Of course, the more users and the more detailed the reporting and tracking process needs to be, then the more formal and evolved the tracking tool needs to be.
Another important consideration is the types of projects that you are managing. Certainly government projects require a different level of tracking, management and documentation then do, say, some private sector projects. Are your projects long term, high dollar engagements? Or are they very short term, one-off projects with small budgets. Certainly the length of your projects, the criticality of those projects, and the size of the project budget can play a determining factor in how much detail you build into your issue management system process and how much money you inject into it.
This issue management discussion is part of an ongoing six part series. In part 2 will look at issue management in terms of the business processes that must be managed.
If you’re looking for a solid enterprise issue management tool, check out Gemini. Gemini gives maximum flexibility with minimal effort to manage real world problems efficiently and quickly.