What is Issue Management?
Issue Management is the process to make others aware of the problem and the resolve it as fast as possible
To understand this, take the following exercise -
There are some typical issues in the project
- The Project is out of budget
- Lack of visible management support for the project
- Project communication has been ineffective
- Project management process does not follow the standard
- Wrong project target
- Project Scope not defined correctly
- Unclear project requirements
- Project team lacks skills to complete the project
- Project team is too large or too small & hence difficult to manage
- Project team is poorly organized. They do not want to work as a Team
- Lack of skilled members due to leave taking or resignations.
- Project schedule is too tight. You do not have enough manpower to meet deadlines.
- The project needs some inputs such as test material, software tool etc. … but there is delay in delivery.
Why do Issues happen?
There are tons of reasons which cause issues. Most of the reasons have human mistakes as their cause. The Test Manager, who leads the project should take full responsibility for that project failure.
Here are few common mistakes which cause the issues
Matching resources to the wrong projects
Guru99 Bank is complex and big project. You need many personnel with testing skills. But you selected resources with development skills. What will be the issue?
The following issues may happen
- A lot of time will be wasted as the developers are not trained testers & will need to learn testing. Deadline may be missed.
- The Quality of Testing may suffer.
The matching up of resources to projects is the most important factor in project management and is viewed as a critical stage for project success. Matching resources to the project should ensure the resources skills are able to reach the project’s expectation.
Project Manager’s lack of management skills
You are assigned as Test Manager of Guru99 Bank project. It is good news, but you have never managed a project before. You do not have any experience in managing a project, it can cause major issue.
Controlling a project is hard and it is even harder if the project manager does not have any experience to manage the project well. Experience in running project status meetings, managing risk and dealing with the project stakeholders is very important for the successful development and execution of a project.
Too tight or loose schedule is one of the reasons that make the project progress delay or overrun. This situation can arise if the project manager sets unrealistic time schedules against project tasks.
Know who are and what you can do. The big mistake the Test Manager makes is that he thinks it is easy to complete any project. You need to be realistic in your thinking and ensure you are not underestimating your needs from the get go.
Ignoring the small problems
Some small problem at present can become worse in the future. See the following example:
Ignoring problems only makes the issues worse, so it is advisable to make room for these problems and develop a practical solution, even these problems are small.
Not following the process
Test Management is big process which Manager need to follow strictly. Not following process means you break the rule.
Having a process in place will give you structure and organization and decrease the chances of projects running into risk
Not Listening to others
You are Test Manager of the project; you have the highest position in the project Team. But you cannot do anything alone; you need your project Team.
Team members are probably the most aware of impending challenges or issues with a project through their day work. If a Test Manager does not listen to member’s advice and discourage his project team from making suggestions, he could ultimately end up with the project failing.
Issue Management Approach
Let’s start the topic with following scenario
In the project Guru99 Bank, in order to make the Test Plan, you have to analyze and make clear the customer requirement. Here is a scenario
In this case, one issue happened. It came from the customer. In five days, he changed the requirement for 3 times. Fickle clients can be a huge hassle because he does not know what his wants are, until a certain stage is completed.
This topic will show you step-by-steps guideline to solve the issue.
At some point during the project, the risks, which you identified in the planning steps, will become true and you have an issue. You have to record any event or problem which has happened and threatens the success of your project
In many project, the issues are likely to arise at the beginning of the project. So, it is a smart idea to detect and discuss issues during project initiation.
When an issue is identified, you should do following action:
Record the project issues
One of the best tools to record the project issues is issue log. The issue log will help you to focus on finding a solution to a problem.
You can create the issue log by yourself or use the issue log template in this article as the reference.
Set the priority level
Do not forget the issue priority, you always assign a priority level to an issue. There are three issue priorities commonly used
What priority will you set for the issue which mentioned in above topics?
If customer doesn't fix the requirement, TestManager can not estimate and create the plan. The project is unable to proceed.
It's Critical issue and need to resolve immediately
Assign the owner to the issues
Assign project issue to the person best suited to deal with it. That person is someone in or outside the project team. However, if you do assign it someone outside the team makes sure they know what they are getting into!
For our above issue of Customer changing requirement, you can choose a person who has best communication skill to solve the issue. He will work as a bridge engineer to negotiate with customer, request them to fix the requirement, in order to proceed the project.
Track the issues status
After assigning the owner to the issue, you have to check the issue log and update the issue status regularly. The following figures represent the type of risk
Document the significant project issues in your regular progress (highlight) reports and escalate high priority issues to the project board—communication is key.
Expert project managers rely heavily on a project issue status report, especially if a project is large and has many stakeholders.
To help you create your own report, you can use or utilize the Project Issue Template Report in this article.
Control Project Issues
The Project Manager is responsible for the control of project issues and should carefully consider the following activities
- Acknowledge the people who could have an impact on resolving the issue.
- Stop all activities around the issues and prior to resolving the issue first. You are the project manager and in control of the situation, do not rush the project unless you resolve issues.
- Now think hard on following questions for each issue in the log
- Create a list of possible actions or options that could offer the breakthrough you are seeking. Then narrow down your list and select those options most likely to resolve the issue.
A) Hold the meeting with customer to clarify and baseline the requirement as soon as possible
B) Ask the management board to get support from them, to help negotiate with customer
C) Propose new ideas to customer about the product requirement
D) All above answers
In above interactive element, you can use any action to solve the issue such as A, B or C. But in some cases, use only one option may not enough to solve the issue completely. The best way is combine all the options.
For example, if you select option A “Hold the meeting with customer to make clear and baseline the requirement as soon as possible”. What will you do if you and your customer can not make the final requirement after such the meeting? You need to get more support from higher level to negotiate with customer (Option B). If customers are not professional, they even don’t know exactly their requirement. In such case, you should propose new ideas to customer about the product requirement.