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Ten Steps to Manage Issues on Large Projects

June 1 2015

Issues are more than just common problems. They are problems that meet specific criteria. An issue is a formally-defined problem that willimpede the progress of the project and cannot be totally resolved by the project manager and project team without outside help. The processes used to manage issues can be simpler or more rigorous depending on the size of the project. Use the following process to manage issues on large projects.

    1. Identify the problem and document on the Issues Form

      Solicit potential issues from any project stakeholders, including the project team, clients, sponsors, etc. The issue can be surfaced through verbal or written means, but it must be formally documented using an Issues Form.


    2. Determine if the problem is really an issue

      The project manager determines whether the problem can be resolved or whether it should be classified as an issue.

    3. Enter the issue into the Issues Log

      If it is an issue, the project manager enters the issue into the Issues Log.


    4. Determine who needs to be involved in resolving the issue

      The project manager determines who needs to be involved in resolving the issue. The sponsor may be involved, or the sponsor may not have the expertise to assist in the resolution process. For instance, the problem may be contractual and require resolution from the Purchasing Department. However, at some point the alternatives will be discussed and a resolution will be made. It is important to understand up-front who needs to be involved in making this final issue resolution.

    5. Assign to team member for analysis and alternatives

      The project manager assigns the issue to a project team member for investigation (the project manager could assign it to himself or herself). The team member will investigate options that are available to resolve the issue. For each option, the team member should also estimate the impact to the project in terms of budget, schedule and scope.


    6. Gain agreement on resolution

      The various alternatives and impact on schedule and budget are documented on the Issues Form. The project manager should take the issue, alternatives and project impact to the appropriate stakeholders (from step 6 above) for discussion and resolution. The project manager may want to make a recommendation from among the alternatives as well.

    7. Close the Issues Log

      The project manager documents the resolution or course of action on the Issues Log.

    8. Close the Issues Form

      The project manager documents the issue resolution on the Issues Form and then closes and files this document.

    9. Add action plan to the schedule

      Once a resolution is agreed upon, the appropriate corrective activities are added to the schedule to ensure the issue is resolved.

    10. Communicate through the Status Report

      The project manager communicates issue status and resolutions to project team members and other appropriate stakeholders through the methods established in the Communication Management Plan, including the project Status Report.


Smaller projects do not need all of these steps. For instance, the issue can be documented directly in the Issues Log without the need for the separate Issues Form.