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When a Risk Becomes an Issue
When managing a project, you'll find that activities, problems, concerns and requests from project stakeholders come into play. They need to be handled in ways that will ensure the project will not experience delays or distractions.
Project issue management sometimes is confused with risk management, which deals with conditions that may occur or impact the project. Project issues, however, are conditions that have already occurred and must be adequately handled. Some project risks identified in the project plan may become project issues when they materialize during the course of the project.
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Learn the Basics
The project issue management process requires the identification, documentation, privatization, and resolution of factors that affect the project. A log of issues is a communications tool that is normally kept as part of the project issue management process. The issues log is something that teams will review during their recurring meetings. The issue log usually contains essential details of each issue as well as plans to handle each one and the due date for resolution. Also in this log is a record of the responsibilities assigned to each member of the team. Project issue management is often handled with the same tracking systems used for tracking change requests.
Often, project managers handle the issue management report as a deliverable that includes details of each issue, procedures for informing stakeholders of issue status, and resolution reports.
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Issues that generally affect projects are listed and explained below.
1. General issues occurs when delays, vendor problems, and any other project area that calls for a solution or an answer do not meet any of the other project issue management criteria.
2. Change requests are issues that require a process to evaluate, recommend, and implement changes that a stakeholder believes is necessary for a project. Sometimes the inclusion of change requests in a project is dependent on the funds available in a change request budget.
3. Off-specification issues are those that develop when the project is called upon to accomplish something not originally intended or a failure of the project to produce outputs that meet its quality requirements. An impact analysis should be conducted to understand all the factors involved in the off-specification issue and how the failure should be addressed.
4. Process improvements are project issues that potentially affect the project in a positive way when a stakeholder recommends ways to improve the business process of a project or new requirements that will enhance the value and viability of the project.
Issue project management uses issue logs and sometimes issue tracking software to make sure that issues are adequately processed.
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Factors for Success
The project sponsor owns project issues and therefore should require the establishment of a project issue management process from the very beginning of the project's conception. The project manager should keep team members informed of project issues, maintain the project issue log, and review issues with the team on a regular basis. Finally, a change control process must be defined to allow the orderly resolution of issues.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/United States Army