It is inevitable that during a project, there are several things that can go wrong no matter how much you perfected the planning stage. These issues can severely impact the project you are working on. Therefore, it is in your best interest to resolve these issues quickly. Being prepared in case things go awry is the key to tackling these issues and making sure that you will be able to finish your project before its deadline. That is why we listed some of the issue management best practices that you can apply in order to tackle any problems on your projects.
1. Report The Issues Immediately
Timing is essential especially for projects with deadlines. While some problems may seem to be minor at first, it may lead to disastrous effects towards the end of the project. Even if it is a tiny inconsistency, make sure that you keep track of it, If you or one of your team members do not report the issue immediately, chances are you will forget about the issue especially if it only a minor problem. This is the foundation of a good issue management practice.
Have a space designated in logging down your issues. As soon as the issue is reported, make sure that you have a physical or virtual copy of the details available. Trusting your brain to remember the issue is not a good habit as there is a chance that you may remember the details wrong or forget it altogether. It is also better if you assign someone from the team to keep the Issue Log updated and organized. List down all the information that have on the issue such as the date it occurred, the member who discovered the issue, and a description of the issue.
2. Virtual Or Physical Log
You will need to assess which record method you must use. The traditional method is to have a corkboard or a whiteboard in your office where everyone can see the issues and tasks that need to be addressed. This is perfect for a small team that is always in the office. It is as effective as a virtual log, except it doesn’t have the advantage to be accessible anywhere.
However, with the modernizing technology, a virtual method in logging the issues is also recommended. There are certain apps that can be used across different platforms and accessible anywhere as long as there is an internet connection. For a team that doesn’t meet regularly or has team members that go long distances, this might be a better solution. It is important that the Issue Log is accessible to all members for everyone to be updated about the project. Sometimes, some issues are also related to tasks assigned to different people and so, having a unified system where everyone can see the progress of the team is helpful.
3. Setup A Proper Communication Channel
In order for the issues to be resolved as quickly as possible, it is best that the team can communicate with each other especially if a new issue comes up. This is necessary for teams that are not in the same location while they are working. If an issue took too long to be reported, or the resolution was not immediately given, there can be certain consequences to the project. As a team, it is also your duty to each other to be as transparent as possible because project issue management is everyone’s duty. Everything will go smoother if you can communicate and assist each other with the tasks and the issues that will arise.
4. Assign A Member For Resolution
Chances are, there is more than one issue that will arise and each of them requires different sets of skills. Based on the data you have, you must pick the best member suitable for resolving the issue. Make sure that it won’t interfere with other tasks that are necessary to complete the project. There are times that the perfect person to handle the issue is not the one with the most skills but someone who is creative enough to come up with a solution in a short amount of time.
To further avoid wasting time in deciding who fits the requirements to solve the problem, you can also assign a team member to specific issues beforehand. For example, for all the technical issues, assign person A, while person B deals with all the vendor-related issues. This is also useful in cases wherein you are not available but an issue that needs immediate attention comes up. Your team will be able to assign the right person to solve the problem based on its category because it has been predetermined by you.
The last thing to remember is to make sure that the tasks are properly distributed among the members so there isn’t anybody who is doing more jobs than the rest. By putting too many tasks on one person, you may risk slowing down the whole project.
5. Priority Color Coding
Sometimes, it helps to be a little visual about your Issue Logs. This helps you prioritize which issues need to be taken care of immediately and also help you in the next step. The usual color coding scheme is the traffic light color scheme.
- Green – minor problems that do not require immediate attention
- Yellow – problems that need to be resolved soon
- Red – immediate action is required
Make sure that not all issues are labeled green because that defeats the purpose of a proper project issue management. All issues must be treated with urgency to avoid a very negative impact on the project.
You can also change the color scheme or add more categories that will fit your project better. Other people color-code their issues based on the people assigned to easily see which members have too many tasks on their hands already. Another option is to color-code based on the category of the issues of the project. These visual aids help you gain more information about the issues you are solving.
6. Create A Deadline
Since you have a general idea of how serious the issue is, you can set a realistic deadline for the issue to be resolved. To better manage your time, make a habit of setting deadlines for all the tasks within the project. Creating deadlines also helps you prioritize your tasks to figure out what needs to be done immediately. It also helps you in setting up a timeline of the tasks that need to be done before being able to complete the project. It also prevents you from lacking off on issues that do not require immediate attention.
This deadline doesn’t need to be concrete. There are times that the first deadline that is set cannot be achieved due to unforeseen issues. Sometimes, it is because the issue was underestimated and thus, adjustments must be made.
7. Track Progress
Now that the basics of the initialization phase are done, you must now track the progress of the resolution. There are different labels that you can put on each issue to give a clear indication of how far it is from being solved.
- Initialization – the first phase where the issue is identified and a log is created
- Investigation – the assigned member is in the process of looking for resolutions
- Execution – a possible solution is being implemented
- Escalation – the issue is escalated for further directions and instructions
- Resolved- the issue has been resolved and no further actions is required
This progress should be updated as soon as the issue moves on to the next phase. By tracking the progress, you will be able to get a sense of how many issues are lagging behind from schedule. In this case, you must check with the member assigned for an update.
8. Kanban Method
One of the most popular techniques in the world of organizational methods is the kanban method. It is a way of tracking the progress of the issue but can also be applicable to other tasks. This helps you visualize your workflow by dividing the tasks into separate stages. The usual stages are, To-do, Doing, and Done. But in the case of project issue management, those stages can be tweaked into, Open, Solving, and Closed. In a board, you list down all the tasks and move them through the columns as soon as each stage is done. There are also applications that can do this online.
The goal of the Kanban method is to move all the tasks to the final column as fast as possible and avoid clogging up the first two columns. You should avoid cluttering up the Open issues as it means that you will have a hard time scheduling your tasks in the future. It is a very simple method that helps in organizing incoming issues and making sure that they are resolved immediately.
You have to note that the Kanban method should be separate from your Issue Log. This is more of a visualization of the number of issues you have that are still open and unsolved.
9. Log The Updates
The Issue Log does not end until the issue is resolved. For every action taken, there should be a log detailing the updates. A good issue management practice is to keep track of dates, the people involved, and the action that took place in updating your logs. If there are additional observations regarding the problem, it must also be noted. All of these pieces of information are necessary especially if an issue is taking more time than given to be resolved. If that is the case, it is important to go back to the Issue Log and figure out what is taking so long in resolving the said issue.
10. Review The Logs
Make a habit of reviewing the logs especially on issues that seem to be connected or recurring. By doing so, you may figure out a common factor with these issues. If you regularly do this, you may be able to predict and prevent upcoming problems. There may also be certain issues that the assigned member had overlooked and can affect the project later on. Casually checking the Issue Log whenever you have free time can save you a future headache. Just make sure that you do not overthink the issues that are listed and end up losing sight of the goal.
11. Proper Escalation
There are times in the process of issue management that the solution of an issue is out of your hands. In this case, an escalation is necessary to avoid a negative consequence on the project. However, too much escalation may only waste resources that are better spent on other tasks. To avoid this, you must set a proper guideline on how to escalate the issue to the management.
You can check the potential impact and the complexity of the said issue and create your guideline from there. You can also set up certain rules for your members to assist them in solving the issues first before escalating.
12. Use Flowchart
There are issues that are simple to fix but there are also complicated ones that need more time and steps to resolve. In cases like this, a flowchart helps a lot in being able to solve the issue as fast as possible. This is also helpful in case the member assigned is unavailable and you want to check out the progress of the resolution. Flowcharts are meant to be easily understood. It can also serve as a set of instructions to be done in order for the issue to be resolved. A good issue management practice is to make sure that for complex issues, the responsibility is not solely on one person. Other members of the team should be able to follow the flowchart in case the person assigned is not available.
All of the above can be used together to optimize your time in solving the problems that arise. However, it still depends on your leadership style. You may not be someone who would go for color-coding schemes and that is totally fine. By forcing yourself to follow a method that doesn’t suit you will not improve your issue management skills. Instead, focus on the tips that you know fits your leadership style. It should feel like you are executing them seamlessly. This is really important as it lessens the friction in solving the problems.