Issue Management Methodology for Tracking Project IssuesWritten by Grant Murray
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3.3.1 Issue Status
A decision is made about next state of issue. (The previous state was "new".) The next status of issue reflects nature and timing of action to address issue. It is one of following:
- open: immediate action will be taken to address issue
- deferred: action will be deferred until some future time
- referred: action will be taken by some other group, probably because issue is beyond current scope
- cancelled: no action will be taken now or in future
3.3.2 Categorize issue
A first attempt at categorizing issue was made when it was first recorded. But, now during initial review category can be refined.
The proper issue category is helpful when prioritizing resources required to address issues. It is especially useful for reporting purposes.
Action item: Discuss with team how best to categorize issues you expect to get, and document categories that will be used.
3.3.3 Rank issue severity
The severity reflects importance of getting issue resolved. Obviously, you want to direct resources at most important issues before lesser ones.
Action item: Choose a small set of severity codes that have a clear ranking. For example: Trivial, Standard, Important, Critical. Some people prefer: Low, Medium, High, Very High.
From start, next person to take action on issue must be assigned to issue and notified. Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.com/] will automatically notify person assigned to issue via email.
If issue description is incomplete, issue can be assigned to appropriate party to gather information necessary to make issue description clear.
Assign a person and not a group. Experience has shown that assigning issues to individuals leads to greater accountability than assigning issues to groups. An individual can be confronted about lack of progress, it is much harder to confront a group of people. A group can be represented by a group leader, so you can assign an issue to group leader who will take action to reassign issue to correct group member who will actually address issue.
It should be possible to decide which stakeholder is owner of issue. Having an issue owner is a way of recording who is accountable for issue's resolution.
Owners must review issues they own for progress to resolution. If progress is not sufficient issue manager should be told so that situation can be remedied.
3.4 Taking Action
The process to address an issue iterates over following sub-steps until issue is resolved.
- The person assigned to issue, takes action to address issue.
- The person assigned to issue, documents action taken as an issue event in central repository. An issue event has person's name, date and a description of action taken.
- Some issue processes require an approval step before further action can be taken. This approval should take form of signing off on a proposal. While paper based signatures are acceptable, an automated system is better. Issue events in Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.com/] can by used to sign off, since a user is required to log in to identify themselves, this is as good as a paper signature.
- If there is documentation to support action taken, like a cost-benefit analysis of a proposed system change, supporting files are attached to issue.
- The process of finding a solution may help refine issue description. This refinement should be reflected in updates to issue description and title, as well as attaching further supporting files. It may also require that issue be re-categorized.
- If next iteration is responsibility of another person issue is reassigned.
- If issue is resolved in this iteration, status is updated to reflect fact that issue is inactive.
Notice that action taken may involve reassigning issue, changing status, refining issue description, changing category of issue. All of these changes should be recorded in central repository. Changing of status, category and severity are automatically logged for you in an automated system like Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.com/].
3.5 Ongoing Oversight
Consistent and continuous evaluation of issues by issue manager and team must take place to bring issues to resolution. This can take place through a periodic review of all active issues in central repository with team and a separate review with stakeholders.
Escalate issues as needed by re-assigning or by changing issue ownership.
Report and communicate progress on all issues to upper management and to team, subscriptions can be used by upper management and team to follow progress on individual issues. This reporting can be integrated into project status reporting.
Analyze issue progress and adapt actions. The central repository should be able to provide feedback on how efficiently issues are proceeding from creation to resolution. If it is taking too long to resolve important issues, then issue manager must find ways to improve turn-around time.
The following are a few further action items
Action item: Distribute copies of this issue management methodology to team members and stakeholders so that everyone knows how and why issues are managed.
Action item: Adapt and scale this issue management methodology to suit you project's scale and quirks.
Action item: Create your central repository, and get started today.
This issue management methodology has evolved over many years. It evolved from experience on projects with budgets from $500,000 to $50,000,000 which had a total number of issues ranging from a few hundred issues to many thousands. In half cases project team was physically dispersed in several countries.
Grant Murray is project manager and enterprise application architect specializing in technical project leadership strategy. Email [email@example.com] for questions or comments regarding this article, or if you require project management consulting. Issue Tracker
The Ten Pillars of Leadership and Business DevelopmentWritten by Bea Fields
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(7) Leaders must be willing to show their employees that they love and care for them.
There is one truth in life that I firmly believe: With showing of love and concern, people begin to feel wonderful and more worthy, and their productivity will triple in an environment that is loving. The book “Love is Killer App” by Tim Sanders focuses on what it takes to create a true “Love Biz” by giving and showing of compassion, resources, and knowledge without expectation of anything in return. People will do business with people they like, and this “Love Cat” way of doing business often strikes an uncomfortable chord with leaders who are insecure about their own abilities or who view a show of love, empathy, and compassion as a sign of weakness. People have to know on a very deep level that their leaders care about them, their future, and their growth. With this loving approach to leading, talent in organizations will grow, and a sense of self confidence and commitment will inspire individuals at every level of company.
(8) Leaders must be willing to listen to grapevine and then build a sense of community based on what he/she hears in grapevine.
One of my favorite leaders in my local community is Dan Landis, Director of Sales and Marketing for St. Joseph of Pines, a life care community in North Carolina. He is one leader who I see as truly being bold…he actively places himself every day in middle of firing line. He spends much of his day talking to residents, sitting down and eating lunch with them, and stopping them in hall to simply ask “How are you…What can I do for you today? What are problems you are having? How can I help? ” He does not stop with residents. He goes on to exercise this same approach with employees of St. Joseph of Pines. Dan is a leader who is developing a very deep understanding of collective issues and desires of customers of St. Joseph of Pines…both employees and residents. He is building a sense of community based on shared values, and he is taking people to places they have never been before. Not only does he listen…he acts, bringing quick solutions to problems he hears and desires he knows are in hearts of people he leads.
Every company has a grapevine, and it is not uncommon for companies to have a grapevine that spreads negative messages, complaints, and rumors. These messages and rumors can seriously undermine morale of any company. Leaders must be willing to do as Dan Landis does…listen to grapevine, and use it as a feedback mechanism to highlight key issues that customers and employees consider relevant enough to whisper about at water fountain and in community. Leaders can also use grapevine to monitor which employees and customers are more likely to pass information along, so that impact of grapevine can be reduced.
(9) Leaders must be devoted to continuous improvement.
Leadership development is mandatory for CEOs and Executive Team, but it is also a necessary part of training for every person in organization. So many business leaders of today see leadership development as "fluff" and “soft” but truth of matter is that leadership development can improve bottom line profits and productivity. By listening to an employee who is on front line, and acknowledging her value, a leader can create loyal internal customers and can bring innovative ideas to table which can grow a company by leaps and bounds. By strengthening team communication, a leader can create a sense of purpose, loyalty, and long-term commitment to organization. One thing to know about leadership development is this: Leaders must not ask her followers to do what she is not willing to do. . Many leaders will hire training for their company and will then refuse to attend training because they “don’t need it or think they are beyond it.” This is, in my opinion, completely out of integrity. The leader must first be a model of what is expected in area of training, development, and improvement, and must be willing to fully participate in a training that front line is asked to attend. The leader must develop a culture that sends message that leadership development is not another undesirable task but a new and fresh way to go about work.
(10) Leaders must have a plan.
The late Christopher Reeve once said “If you don’t have a vision, nothing happens.” Strategic planning is about future impact of decisions made today, and leaders must have a plan that examines necessities of today and tomorrow in light of organization’s vision, mission, values and goals. It is not uncommon to find organizations that either don’t have a strong strategic plan, or they have a plan that is sitting on a shelf collecting dust. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Leaders must realize that to fully implement change, to satisfy customers, and to promote teamwork from top to bottom of organization, strategic changes must be made that are driven by a clearly articulated vision, mission, and purpose. Once strategic plan is written, leaders can then take steps necessary to insure that all stakeholders are in alignment with strategic plan and that they are moving cohesively in direction of fulfilling vision and mission of company. Many organizations will buy a “canned strategic plan” written by an expensive consulting company, and they will try to fit their round peg in square hole of canned plan. This is a BIG MISTAKE! Leaders need to understand that strategic plan is a collaborative process implemented by key stakeholders in company, and CEO or Business Owner must be involved in this process. With a strong commitment and an experienced strategic planning coach or facilitator, a company can create a solid plan which meets needs and demands of all stakeholders.
Bea Fields is a Leadership Coach and Trainer and the President of Five Star Leader Coaching and Training. She is the Visionary Leader for the Personal Environments Community for www.CoachVille.com.