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Strategic Issues Management
By Demian Entrekin

Definition

A “strategic issue” is an issue in a project or initiative where key stakeholder expectations are substantially out of line with each other or with the stated key success factors of the project. A strategic issue should have enough importance that if it is not addressed, it will jeopardize the success of the project.

Purpose

The purpose of a formal Issues Management Process is to prevent major stakeholder gaps from impeding the progress of the project. The main idea is to close problematic gaps in perspective and to foster a creative, problem-solving attitude amongst all key participants.

Identifying Issues

Issues can originate with one or more key stakeholders. It is important to start with the source of the issue to validate that the issue exists and is accurately defined. If the issue does in fact exist, and it creates sufficient risk to stakeholder alignment, then the issue should be defined in a way that leads to an objective and productive analysis of the issue. It helps to include the stakeholders in the effort to defining the issue so they agree with the phrasing and the implications of the issue.

Resolving Issues

  • Allow the people who express the issues to be heard.
  • Depersonalize the process and focus on facts.
  • If the issue has been validated, document the issue in writing.
  • Use an objective, problem solving approach and solution-oriented language.
  • Keep the list of major issues as short as possible (recommend no more than five).
  • Actively work the issues in pursuit of a documented Issue Resolution.

Demian is the CTO of Innotas. As founder and CEO, Entrekin oversaw marketing, product development, sales and services for the company. Today, he focuses on strategic product direction. Prior to Innotas, Entrekin co-founded Convoy Corporation and was Chief Architect of its initial products. In that role, Entrekin helped the company lead the middleware market with an annual growth rate of 670 percent and played an instrumental role in Convoy’s subsequent acquisition by New Era Networks in 1999. A recognized thought leader in Project Portfolio Management, Entrekin has published numerous papers on PPM and his blog (PPM Today) explores current issues related to successful PPM implementation. During his 18 year career, Demian has assumed leadership roles as a consultant and as an entrepreneur, delivering commercial and corporate database applications. Demian holds a B.A. in English from UCLA and an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University.

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