One of the consistent challenges faced by Project Managers is the appropriate resolution of issues that inevitably arise on most projects.
The first step in managing issues is to capture them in one consolidated place. While this may seem simple, it is a challenge for project managers. Everyone from customers, software developers / engineers, stakeholders and C-Level management may all have issues they need resolved. Ensuring all issues are captured on timely basis is critical. In my experience, it isn’t rare for issues to be outlined during “water cooler” or hallway conversations. The project manager must either note these issues and document them or ask person who is raising the issue to use the appropriate mechanism to report the issue.
Once a consolidated list of issues is available, the project manager must ensure that these issues are being raised with the correct people who have both the ability and organizational power to resolve the issues. As an example, it does little good to discuss a regulatory / legal issue with the Information Technology Team when the person with ability to resolve the issue is the Corporate Counsel. Project Managers need to feel empowered to seek out the correct resources and ensure that appropriate time is given to bring a resolution to the issues.
Frequency of review is critical to proactive issue management. The industry standard seems to be once a week during a weekly status meeting. This may vary widely depending on the size, priority and complexity of the project.
Lastly, escalation is part of the project manager’s job. If an issue isn’t being resolved in a reasonable amount of time, then the project manager must escalate the issue to ensure the resolution is given the attention it deserves.
None of us in the project management profession like issues on the projects we manage but they are inevitable. The suggestions above should be helpful in managing a not so fun part of our job in the most effective manner possible.