Managing Issues/Action Items
By John Filicetti
In spite of your best efforts at risk management, all projects of any size and complexity will have issues arise that need to be dealt with and resolved. If you haven’t done a good job managing risks, chances are you will have more issues to deal with than you might otherwise have. Use the following information to manage issues:
- Issues/Action Items Matrix or Log is used to help clarify, track, communicate and resolve issues. Some meeting reports include Issues/Action Items in the form.
- Customize an Issues/Action Item Matrix to meet the project’s needs, i.e., include columns for issue priority, type, complexity, source, key contact for resolution, etc.—whatever makes sense.
- Visit and update the Issues/Action Item Matrix weekly, or at least bi-weekly, but always prior to and during a status meeting.
- Leverage the Issues/Action Item Matrix for use as a key communication tool—distribute it per the Communication Plan.
- Work from the Issues/Action Item Matrix to identify critical issues, and get updates from issue owners on these between meetings.
- Remember, if you assign an issue to more than one person, you will get finger pointing, not resolution.
- Help facilitate issue resolution as appropriate, which may include motivating, providing logistical support, coordinating and/or facilitating a meeting, developing a plan for escalation, etc.
Best practice: Resolve issues as quickly as possible.
Issues are big problems. For instance, your servers you ordered are not ready and configured on time. Or perhaps the new network backbone is not set up correctly and needs to be redesigned. The project manager should manage open issues diligently to ensure they are being resolved. If there is no urgency to resolve the issue, or if the issue has been active for some time, then it may not really be an issue. It may be a potential problem (risk), or it may be an action item that needs to be resolved at some later point. Issues by their nature must be resolved with a sense of urgency.
John F. Filicetti, PMP, MBA
John Filicetti is a Sr. Sales Engineer/PM-PMO-PPM Consultant with a great depth of experience and expertise in enterprise project management, project management methodologies, Project Portfolio Management (PPM), Project Management Offices (PMOs), Governance, process consulting, and business management. John has directed and managed project management teams, created and implemented methodologies and practices, provided project management consulting, created and directed PMOs, and created consulting and professional services in such areas as project portfolio management, Governance, business process re-engineering, network systems integration, application development, infrastructure, and complex environments. John has enjoyed many years as PMO Director for large corporations in the Seattle area and leads the PMO Roundtable discussion group and forum.