Issue Management Methodology for Tracking Project Issues

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Issue Management Methodology for Tracking Project Issues

By: Grant Murray

1.) What is an Issue?

An issue is an incident, circumstance, problem or inquiry that affects or potentially affects the timely delivery of the project, product or service, it may also impact the quality of deliverables and the cost of production.

Some projects are ongoing and the definition of an issue is a little different. A help desk defines an issue as a request for help that requires a response. A service department keeps track of service requests as issues. A software maintenance group tracks reports of software bugs and enhancement requests as issues.

Because of the impact issues have on a project, product development or ongoing service, issue management is an important aspect in any management methodology. This issue management methodology promises to make the handling of issues a seamless part of your larger scoped methodologies rather than a process separate from them.

It is usually not hard for team members to identify issues, but it is still worth having a working definition of an issue. Remember that the more ambitious your project the more issues will arise.

Action item: The project team must be made aware of what issues are, provide some examples, and ask other team members to provide some examples.

2.) Requirements

A central repository of issue information easily accessible to all team members, because it is good for team morale and productivity to know that their issues are being addressed. An automated central repository like Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.) com/] is desirable because it make the issue management and reporting much easier.

Action item: Choose a central repository for your issues.

An issue manager is the person chosen to oversee all issues. It can be the project manager, team leader or another person in a responsible leadership position. The issue manager is responsible for making sure that there is consistent, disciplined and continuous progress made on all issues. The issue manager is accountable to upper management for the progress made on all issues. The issue manager communicates issue progress to the team, upper management and all stakeholders.

Action item: Appoint an Issue Manager and notify the issue manager of their role and responsibilities.

This issue management methodology represents best practice for managing issues. However, the goal is to have a successful project, product development or service, the goal is not to follow a methodology fanatically.

Action item: Adapt the methodology so your project's success is maximized.

3.) Steps

3.) 1 Discovery

Issues can arise at any time. When an issue is discovered it is recorded in the central repository.

It is important to allow issues to be recorded by a broad group of people including team members, upper management, users, customers, stakeholders, vendors and contractors. It is important because if there are barriers to reporting an issue then there is an increased chance that the issue will go unrecorded. You cannot address issues that you do not know about. It is not necessary that everyone has access to central repository, but the more you can allow the better.

Action item: Set up access to the central repository for those people that need it.

3.) 2 Recording

Training people to identify issues is often unnecessary, however getting people to record the issue in the central repository will take some training and encouragement. For example, a team member may mention an unrecorded issue to the project manager during a coffee break or other informal occasion, this team member needs some encouragement to record such issues in the central repository.

For all kinds of issues, prevention is better than correction. Also, issues tend to be less severe if they are addressed earlier rather than later. This means that every effort should be made to report issues as soon as they are discovered, instead of waiting for the issue to become "serious enough" before recording it. Do not be afraid of duplicating an issue or overlapping with existing issues, it is better than missing an issue.

A complete description of the cause of the issue should be recorded in the central repository. Resist the temptation to describe the issue in terms of a solution. Any implication of the issue should be recorded. Attach any supporting documentation, screenshots, report output, faxes, error messages and other media that describes the issue.

The person who is recording the issue can make a recommendation for a solution, if they have one. This person

should also assign the issue if possible, even if it is only assigned to the issue manager for re-assignment.

When an issue is initially recorded it should be recorded in the central repository with a status code that reflects the fact that it is new issue and has not been reviewed. An attempt should also be made to categorize and rank the severity of the issue.

The date and who created the issue should be recorded in the central repository. This is done automatically for you in systems like Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.) com/].

Many teams describe issues in terms of the desired solution, leaving others to deduce the actual issue. This is not best practice since it limits the scope of possible creative solutions. As an example a badly worded issue: "We need more people." There is no indication in this example of what the issue actually is, so finding alternative solutions is impossible. If the example issue had been worded as "The shipping department has swamped us with product, there is a possibility of spoilage if we cannot get the product delivered." With the issue worded this way perhaps the shipping department can become aware of how there actions are causing issues down the line and adapt their actions.

3.) 3 Initial Review

The initial review is a triage of new issues. It is usually performed by the issue manager or deputies who are familiar with the scope and priorities of the project. If the team is small the entire team can meet for the review. For each new issue the status, category and severity are reviewed and the issue assigned to someone for action and optionally an owner is identified as follows.

Sometimes the same person who records the issue may be doing the initial review, so these two steps can be fused into one in this situation.

3.) 3.) 1 Issue Status

A decision is made about the next state of the issue. (The previous state was "new".) The next status of the issue reflects the nature and timing of the action to address the issue. It is one of the following:

open: immediate action will be taken to address the issue

deferred: action will be deferred until some future time

referred: action will be taken by some other group, probably because the issue is beyond the current scope

cancelled: no action will be taken now or in the future

3.) 3.) 2 Categorize the issue

A first attempt at categorizing the issue was made when it was first recorded. But, now during the initial review the category can be refined.

The proper issue category is helpful when prioritizing the resources required to address issues. It is especially useful for reporting purposes.

Action item: Discuss with the team how best to categorize the issues you expect to get, and document the categories that will be used.

3.) 3.) 3 Rank the issue severity

The severity reflects the importance of getting the issue resolved. Obviously, you want to direct resources at the most important issues before the lesser ones.

Action item: Choose a small set of severity codes that have a clear ranking. For example: Trivial, Standard, Important, Critical. Some people prefer: Low, Medium, High, Very High.

3.) 3.) 4 Assignment

From the start, the next person to take action on the issue must be assigned to the issue and notified. Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.) com/] will automatically notify the person assigned to the issue via email.

If the issue description is incomplete, the issue can be assigned to the appropriate party to gather the information necessary to make the issue description clear.

Assign a person and not a group. Experience has shown that assigning issues to individuals leads to greater accountability than assigning issues to groups. An individual can be confronted about lack of progress, it is much harder to confront a group of people. A group can be represented by a group leader, so you can assign an issue to the group leader who will take action to reassign the issue to correct group member who will actually address the issue.

3.) 3.) 5 Ownership

It should be possible to decide which stakeholder is the owner of the issue. Having an issue owner is a way of recording who is accountable for the issue's resolution.

Owners must review the issues they own for progress to resolution. If the progress is not sufficient the issue manager should be told so that the situation can be remedied.

3.) 4 Taking Action

The process to address an issue iterates over the following sub-steps until the issue is resolved.

The person assigned to the issue, takes action to address the issue.

The person assigned to the issue, documents the action taken as an issue event in the central repository. An issue event has the person's name, the date and a description of the action taken.

Some issue processes require an approval step before further action can be taken. This approval should take the form of signing off on a proposal. While paper based signatures are acceptable, an automated system is better. Issue events in Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.) com/] can by used to sign off, since a user is required to log in to identify themselves, this is as good as a paper signature.

If there is documentation to support the action taken, like a cost-benefit analysis of a proposed system change, the supporting files are attached to the issue.

The process of finding a solution may help refine the issue description. This refinement should be reflected in updates to the issue description and title, as well as attaching further supporting files. It may also require that the issue be re-categorized.

If the next iteration is the responsibility of another person the issue is reassigned.

If the issue is resolved in this iteration, the status is updated to reflect the fact that the issue is inactive.

Notice that the action taken may involve reassigning the issue, changing status, refining the issue description, changing the category of the issue. All of these changes should be recorded in the central repository. Changing of status, category and severity are automatically logged for you in an automated system like Issue Tracker[http://Issue-Tracker.GLM2.) com/].

3.) 5 Ongoing Oversight

Consistent and continuous evaluation of issues by the issue manager and the team must take place to bring the issues to resolution. This can take place through a periodic review of all active issues in the central repository with the team and a separate review with the stakeholders.

Escalate issues as needed by re-assigning or by changing issue ownership.

Report and communicate progress on all issues to upper management and to the team, subscriptions can be used by upper management and the team to follow progress on individual issues. This reporting can be integrated into project status reporting.

Analyze issue progress and adapt actions. The central repository should be able to provide feedback on how efficiently the issues are proceeding from creation to resolution. If it is taking too long to resolve important issues, then the issue manager must find ways to improve the turn-around time.

4.) Finally

The following are a few further action items

Action item: Distribute copies of this issue management methodology to team members and stakeholders so that everyone knows how and why issues are managed.

Action item: Adapt and scale this issue management methodology to suit you project's scale and quirks.

Action item: Create your central repository, and get started today.

This issue management methodology has evolved over many years. It evolved from experience on projects with budgets from $500,000 to $50,000,000 which had a total number of issues ranging from a few hundred issues to many thousands. In half the cases the project team was physically dispersed in several countries.

About The Author

Grant Murray is project manager and enterprise application architect specializing in technical project leadership strategy. Email [email@grantmurray.com] for questions or comments regarding this article, or if you require project management consulting.

Comments

seanbethune 26.01.2006. 22:14

How do companies implement a strategic information security program? In almost all cases, large corporations do a miserable job of implementing and maintaining an information security management program. How can information security justify the business investment to reduce risk and improve security across the enterprise while still maintaining business agility and minimal I.T. bureaucracy?

seanbethune

Admin 26.01.2006. 22:14

What? Is it final exam time or something?

I can tell you from painful personal experience that companies fail in implementing IT security by looking for technology shortcuts, assuming security is built-in with technology infrastructure, or going overboard with an all-powerful central security authority. Companies suck at security because it's hard and getting a business person to spend money on an intangible risk is daunting. At best, your security team defines enough disaster scenarios that scares the business into funding some sort of ongoing risk management program. At worst, security gets buried in IT under the network group.

Getting your arms around what's involved in a comprehensive security program is half the battle and it has a lot more to do with your business processes and staff behavior than firewalls or fancy technology. First, define a program around the following categories:

1. Governance
2. IP/PII information management
3. Facilities
4. Security policy and exception management
5. System scanning and event monitoring

Second, always, always collect hard data metrics around user access requests, critical assets, policy exceptions, and system scanning results. You're going to use this data to justify security based on user behavior that increases risk across the company. Show who's getting and spreading viruses and you'll get some attention from the business.

Third, start tracking these metrics to collect some sort of baseline. You'll need to track and report changes in security risk based on some measure of the number and severity of events occuring across the company. If you're doing a good job, there will be projects underway to address these security issues prioritized by risk rather than whatever cool gadget someone wants to implement.

Finally, treat security as a process rather than a tool and you'll be far ahead of the IT clowns with their IDS and AV toys. Processes are defined, measured, and optimized while today's technology is in tomorrow's landfill.

And... If some consulting company wants to implement a "governance framework" using COSO/Cobit/ISO based methodology for your "enterprise security portal" get a rope. Death is too good for them.

Admin

ravikanth a 15.09.2008. 11:20

How is Software Testing Course to join? I finished my Engineering in ECE and working as a Desktop Engineer in company through Vendor,My salary is very low so i want to undertake Software Testing Course for my better future.

ravikanth a

Admin 15.09.2008. 11:20

Testing accounts for almost 30 percent of the software development market. The global testing market is estimated to be a $13 billion industry. With the boom of the third party software testing business, the need for quality and trained manpower has become a critical issue in the industry.

Software testing has been closely associated with development until a few years ago. Now software testing as a career is evolving rapidly and the profile of a successful tester is remarkably different from that of a successful developer. As testing gains more prominence, a generic career road map for software testing is likely to be established in the years to come.

The Indian testing market

The size of the Indian testing market is estimated to be Rs 150-200 crore. It is said to be growing at a faster rate than the global average. The software testing arena in India is estimated to require more than 16,000-18,000 professionals within the next one year.

The market for software testers in India is likely to open in a big way due to the following reasons:

Availability of testers and their use of automated tools.
Indian software testing companies can offer testing services at a fraction of the cost in most other parts of the world.
Quality of deliverables.
Turnaround time for delivery.
Demand-supply situation

The supply is not at par with the demand due to the paucity of professional testers in India and abroad, and lack of awareness about testing as a career.

Software testing cannot be considered as an alternative to software development. Testing and development require different profiles. People working in these fields undertake different types of training. The approach to work is also different and testing can be treated as a separate career path.

Training in software testing

Professional training is required to start a career in software testing. Training on the concepts of testing on different hardware configurations, processes, using testing tools and other test enablers, working with test management software, defect tracking tools, etc., are required before working on a live testing project.

Following are some India-based organisations that impart training in software testing:

Quality Solutions for Information Technology (QSIT): A Bangalore based IT related process consulting and high-end training company with partners in China, and Vietnam. IIST partners with QSIT for certification programmes in software testing-Certified Security Testing Professional (CSTP).
Vyom SQTL Labs (SQTL): A Pune-based company focused on training, recruitment assistance and consulting in software quality, testing, IT infrastructure and service management.
AmitySoft, Chennai.
QAI India.
Anna University: Offers software testing as one of the elective subjects in the ME Software Engineering degree course.
Electronics Test and Development Centre, Chennai.
Each of these institutes has designed their curriculum for people in different stages of their career, from beginners to test engineers with few years of experience.

Roles and responsibilities of a QA trainee: Test case writing for different projects; learning the art of peer-to-peer review; capturing review defects; process adherence; getting trained on different products and maintaining test environments; training on automated tools; getting trained on at least one language for performing White box testing.

Skill sets

Recruiters, particularly independent testing vendors, look for the following in their prospective employees:

Ability to follow processes;
Ability to work with a problem until solved;
Aptitude towards problem identification;
Ability to analyse the reason for defects;
Knowledge of testing methodology; testing tools, such as WinRunner, Rational Robot, Silk Test, Web Load, etc.

Admin

guillitobarreto 14.04.2008. 14:36

What is a project manager's purpose? Tasks for a Project Manager

guillitobarreto

Admin 14.04.2008. 14:36

The Project Manager (PM) is responsible for the overall success of the project.

- Process Responsibilities

The PM is responsible for defining, planning, and overseeing the execution of the project, using a Project Management Methodology as a guide. Once the project starts, the PM must successfully manage and control the work, including:
?Identifying, tracking managing and resolving project issues (with Project Sponsor involvement as/when necessary)
?Proactively disseminating project information to all stakeholders, and managing stakeholder expectations
?Identifying, managing and mitigating project risk
?Ensuring the project deliverables are of acceptable quality
?Proactively managing scope to ensure only approved changes are incorporated into the project
?Defining and collecting metrics (?actuals?) to give a sense of how the project is progressing, whether the deliverables produced are acceptable, and to improve planning and estimating on future projects.
?Managing the overall plan to ensure work is assigned and completed on time and within budget, and managing any plan deviations
?Managing the balance between cost, time, quality, scope and risk

To manage the project management processes, a PM should be well organized, have great follow-up skills, be process oriented, be able to multi-task, have a logical thought process, be able to determine root causes, have good analytical ability, be a good estimator and budget manager, and have good self-discipline.

- People Responsibilities

In addition to process skills, a PM must have good people management skills. This includes:
?Having the discipline and general management skills to make sure that people follow the standard processes and procedures.
?Leadership skills to get the team to willingly follow the PM?s direction. (Leadership is about communicating a vision and getting the team to accept it and strive to get there.)
?Setting reasonable, challenging and clear expectations for people, and holding them accountable for meeting the expectations. This includes providing good performance feedback to team members.
?Team building skills so that the people work together well, and feel motivated to work hard for the sake of the project and their other team members. The larger the team and the longer the project, the more important it is to have good team-building skills.
?Proactive verbal and written communication skills, including good active listening skills.

Admin

TJ 14.05.2007. 15:21

I am looking for articles or websites regarding project management.? I need to find four companies who have dealt with situations regarding project management and how the situation was handled. It is for a benchmarking assignment for a class.

TJ

Admin 14.05.2007. 15:21

PROJECT MANAGEMENT MANUAL (PDF)
PROJECT MANAGEMENT MANUAL. REVISION LOG. Rev. No. Date. Executed ... Significant or controversial projects may require formation of a Project Advisory ...www.muni.org/iceimages/projectmgmt/PMMCurrent.pdf - 337k - View as html - More from this site
Management Expert Forum - Cutting Edge Resources
Specially commissioned articles on unique topics related to leadership, ... the best project management software, whether for large projects or small, to ...www.teamtechnology.co.uk/expertforum.html - 13k - Cached - More from this site
Project Management for Landscape Contractors, ProGardenBiz Magazine V1 ...
Project Management for Contractors. New this Week: Click here for. new articles ?" More... More... or comments, or need some advice regarding ...www.progardenbiz.com/issues/v1issue3/Project-Management-Contract.htm - 68k - Cached - More from this site
Publications on Electronic Product Management
... of publications regarding electronic products and the management of discards. ... This project evaluated the life cycle environmental impacts, performance, and ...www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Electronics/Resources/Publications - 20k - Cached - More from this site
Risk Management Resources on the Web for Construction Industry
... professionals, project owners and attorneys includes contractor claims, ... to websites for information and resources on insurance, risk management and ...www.constructionrisk.com/articles.htm - 74k - Cached - More from this site
ENSO Signal - Articles
... on the project, see the website at cdm.unfccc.int/Projects/registered.html or ... Mangrove Action Project documents sustainable management alternatives already in ...www.isse.ucar.edu/signal/articles.html - 39k - Cached - More from this site
Project Management Certification - Computer Careers
... to advancing the state of the art in managing projects for over 30 years. ... more detailed information regarding the Project Management Institute or the PCP ...www.bellaonline.com/articles/art13810.asp - 19k - Cached - More from this site
Dr. Dobb's | Enterprise-Wide Project Management | June 29, 2001
... overall plan and track projects without having Project 2000 installed on their desktop systems. ... Project Central was installed, the rules regarding how ...www.ddj.com/dept/architect/184414621 - 44k - Cached - More from this site
ENSO Signal - Articles
Articles Opportunities Publications Upcoming Meetings Past Meetings Websites. Fundamental Links ... POGO: Project on Government Oversight. New Disaster ...www.isse.ucar.edu/signal/23/articles.html - 51k - Cached - More from this site
Control Chaos
Scrum home, information on development process methodology, implementation, project management, free tools. ... regarding Scrum, including frequent articles. ...www.controlchaos.com

Admin

Sathish 15.09.2011. 09:09

Veritas Infosystems- Services? veritas infosysetms what services are they provide to their constomers

Sathish

Admin 15.09.2011. 09:09

Veritas Infosystems provides below services

ERP
Veritas infosystems provides ERP services that go beyond integration. We offer a robust distributed delivery model that incorporates all components of implementation and implementation support to provide our clients with a complete enterprise solution.
CRM
CRM initiatives must be carefully planned, implemented and monitored, or the results may be very different and the outcome less desirable than expected. We understand not only the technology solutions, but also the business strategies
Lagacy Management
Modernization of legacy enterprise systems introduces many challenges due to the size, complexity, and frailty of the legacy systems. Size and complexity issues often dictate that these systems are modernized, and new functionality is incrementally deployed
Data Warehousing
Veritas infosystems has considerable experience in conversion of code and data and has personnel with skills in various conversion tools, which would help carryout a conversion of any size effectively.The methodology Veritas infosystems employs in converting Code
Application Management
Our software development process, supported by our proven onsite-offshore development methodology and our quality management system, shortens application development timeframes, providing significant business benefits to our customers.
Government
Government organizations need to access and track massive amounts of information and be able to provide large-scale solutions rapidly and efficiently. It is essential that public sector customers take advantage of the latest technology
Banking
We offer the most complete and efficient set of banking solutions and technology, from customer management to strategic planning, sales, financial management, and enterprise wide control -all engineered to work together.
Health Care
Our Healthcare Solutions use cutting edge technology to bring you a whole range of administrative and patient management functions to streamline the running of your hospital or practice.
PSA
Public service announcements
Internet
Our services span client-side programming like Java, Flash, Curl, etc, through server side programming including EJB, ASP, .Net, CFML, PHP, JSP, Livewire, C#, etc. Specific languages and protocols that we are extremely comfortable with include XML, DOM, HTML, VRML, XSL, etc
Client Server
Our experience covers all platforms, technologies and Operating Systems - including DOS, Linux, SCO, UNIX IBM AIX, Sun Solaris, Windows 9x/2000/Xp and MacOS on the Apple Macintosh and Novell Netware. We also have skills in other application development tools like Visual C++ , Developer 2000.
Component
Veritas infosystems supports major component interaction models. The three dominant component interaction models are, Components, Microsoft Activex's(COM, COM+), CORBA, Sun JavaBeans, Objects in Practice Veritas infosystems has several projects using the above mentioned interaction models.
Mainframe
We have proven experience in executing projects on mainframe platforms that are varied in nature and complexity. Earning a reputation for efficiency and dependability, our technology proficiency includes CICS COBOL, Pro*Cobol IMS, DEC VAX, MVS, UNIX, and DB2.
Middleware
Specializes in commercial grade solutions for enterprise parallel computing. We put in a tremendous amount of effort to help our clients get the best return on investment possible from their clusters by providing versatile, reliable software and technical support
Wireless
Our capability in the mobile application space ranges from simple SMS based applications to complex full- featured software applications that run on Mobile OS' like Palm, Pocket PC, EPOC Symbian and WinCE. Protocols like WAP, HDML, I-Mode, Bluetooth, WML and new technologies like CDMA, GSM, GPRS, EDGE.

Admin

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