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Issues are Worth Tracking

What is an issue? To some it is a baby risk egg. It is innocent enough until it hatches. Project Management Insight offers a more straightforward interpretation:

An issue is something that is raised by anyone on the project.  Issues are something that has been unresolved; is causing a problem; or that raises a question.  It is information that is incomplete.  An item that needs clarification or further investigation.

It’s the Little Things

This description seems sufficient to describe the nature of an issue. However, let us consider several additional definitions:

  • Dictionary: the product, effect, or consequence of some source
  • Prince II: a project-related concern, suggestion, speculation, etc.
  • PMBOK: a matter that is not yet settled, under discussion, and for which there are disagreements and differing viewpoints

Simply put, an issue is anything that gets in the way of project delivery. As all good practitioners of risk management know, it’s the little things that kill the project. Small issues tend to crop up when you least expect them to, only to become risks that threaten delivery.

Keep an Issue Register

To prevent those issues-eggs from hatching new risks, one must keep a detailed issue register. Even if those issues are unimportant or fleeting, track them. At the end of the day, good record keeping will be the difference between comprehensive risk management and overall project mismanagement. An issues register also comes in handy for explaining to business leaders why particular decisions were made.

Of course, issues are not risks, but they can become risks. Issues are risk larvae. That is why tracking issues is the best way for the risk manager to thwart project failure.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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