7 Steps for Managing Project Issues

Project management expert Jennifer Bridges discusses tips for managing project issues. These seven steps are part of a best practice issue management process and are the core essence of project management.


In Review

Jennifer outlined 7 steps required to manage and track issues on projects. Issues are anything that comes up in the course of your project to impact the plan. Issues might be previously defined risks, or not. What you want to avoid, Jennifer notes, is a form of collective project amnesia where issues come up and never get resolved. (Issues have a funny way of resurfacing, especially when they’ve not be resolved.)

Follow Jennifer’s 7 steps to manage issues:

  1. Create Register. 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.
  2. Log Issues. Make sure people know who can log issues and that they actually do.
  3. Assign actions. Put a name next to an action, too, so there is clear responsibility defined.
  4. Monitor progress. Are people following up on their action items?
  5. Assess impact. Define escalation scale and make sure the actions taken are being measured.
  6. Approve resolution. Make sure when issues are resolved, they have actually been checked that they are resolved.
  7. Close it out. Move resolved issues off the list.

Pro-Tip: Don’t track people down one-by-one. Instead, use the last 10 minutes of your team meeting to efficiently review the issues to make sure they have actually been resolved.

Kiplinger has an fun slideshow on the various types of problem workers you may encounter on the job, with helpful hints on how to better manage them.

Thanks for watching!


Hello, I’m Jennifer Bridges, Director of ProjectManager.com.

Hello. Well, welcome ProjectManager.com fans to our whiteboard session today on one of my favorite topics, Managing Project Issues. What I’d like to bring forth are seven tips on how to get action, and more importantly, cure selective amnesia.

We’ve all seen it before, the phrases like, “I thought we talked about that? Didn’t we agree? Why are we doing this again?” So selective amnesia sets in on issues that are occurring on your projects. Or maybe things aren’t even talked about at all. They’re occurring. So these are seven tips we found to get action and get things resolved.

Number one, create a register. You need some way to log issues on your project, something that’s easily accessible, so a little different than managing changes, where changes maybe aren’t logged. Maybe people are doing things or adding scope to your projects but not logging it.

Here we find that in this one people begin logging issues and it becomes a big, long scroll of issues that never really happens to anything. So, number two, we want to create the register easily accessible so the people who have access to it can log the issues. Number two, log the issues and determine who can log the issues, how do they need to be logged, and when do they need to be logged so that you have an accurate account of the issues occurring on your project.

Number three, assign actions. We found that many times people, maybe their issues are logged, but there’s no definition of who’s resolving it, who’s supposed to take action, and by when. So by assigning a specific person’s name, so not just a business unit organization, but a specific person… When are they supposed to get back on an issue? Are they supposed to go check on something, evaluate something, or assess it, and by when?

Then monitor the progress. Is this person resolving this issue by this time? If not, escalate promptly, so don’t just let it drag and drag and drag, just logging it, logging the status that it’s going on forever. But escalating it to the proper authority, which is defined in your project plan on how you manage issues.

Then, properly, more importantly knowing when to escalate something and when not to, because sometimes – you’ve seen it before, where something gets escalated and everybody and their brother in the project and all the organizations get in an uproar over something minute. Well, that’s probably not the best case scenario, and then things that are big that are really impacting your project, they don’t get escalated in time.

So, not only knowing to escalate promptly, but properly, and also assessing the impact. Sometimes issues can sit in the register, and people can be aware of them, reporting status on them, and not really having an impact on the project but you’re still watching them and monitoring them. But sometimes things can change and the issues can begin impacting your project more and more.

So, assessing the impact as you go along and always making sure that the items don’t just get in a log that grows and grows and you’re not paying attention to it. But seeing if there is some change in the impact to the project, because overtime, again, it could change.

Number six, approve the resolution. So if something does get resolved, making sure the appropriate people have evaluated that and approved that, “Yes, it is.” Because sometimes people will say that something has been resolved, and you see that it really hasn’t, so making sure that that’s not checked off as resolved, getting the appropriate people to really review it, approve it, and say it’s okay.

More importantly, close it out. Get it off the log. Get it off the log. Close it out. Forget about it. Move on. That way, you get action done. You remove the selective amnesia on your project, and you actually maybe can end up in that lower percent of projects that succeed instead of fail.

So, if you need any tips, tools, or techniques in managing your project issues and getting things done, and more importantly getting rid of the selective amnesia on your projects, then visit us at ProjectManager.com.

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