When you’re deep into a project, it sometimes feels inevitable that an issue or problem will arise that will stall or impair the progress of that project. Let’s talk about Effective Project Management.
And while your project team might be extremely capable, some issues just don’t fall into the project team’s skill set. That’s why you sometimes have to turn to others for help resolving the problem.
Managing issues, though, should be in your skill set, and if those skills could use some honing, here are a few ways to make sure you’re managing project issues effectively.
Know what is an issue – and what isn’t
It may seem basic, but an important skill to hone in the field of issues management is being able to identify what an issue actually is. While this seems simple, you might be surprised to learn that many of what you might consider “issues” are actually risks or potential problems; not real, existing issues.
If you’re a project manager, it’s important to use an Issues Log in order to identify and track known issues – but first you need to accurately determine that an issue really is just that. Learn to differentiate between existing issues, potential problems or risks and action items.
“If you’re a project manager, it’s important to use an Issues Log in order to identify and track known issues”
Action items will require follow-up at some point, but that doesn’t make them issues. Issues are large problems, so your issue log will likely be shortened when you really consider what is (and what isn’t) an issue.
Work as a team
Your project team is just that – a team. And the issues you identify might come from members of that team or any other stakeholders in the project. That’s why it’s important to encourage and empower all stakeholders to identify solutions to issues – not just the issues themselves.
Sure, it’s always easier to point out the problems without offering up any fixes, but a good project team can do both. Build accountability among the team by asking for solutions as soon as an issue is identified. When you put the capable minds of your project team together, you’re more likely to find one or more viable solutions and develop effective project management teams.
Break it out for Effective Project Management
Large issues are just that – large! And those issues can be pretty burdensome to take on – even for a seasoned and capably project team. When you’re managing a very large issue, don’t take it on in one bite. Instead, break that issue into smaller problems that can be tackled individually.
It’s likely that when you solve one of the smaller problems, it will lead to a solution for another smaller problem (or perhaps the entire issue itself). Don’t feel like you need to come up with a blanket solution; work on each piece of the puzzle until all the pieces fit together nicely.
Empower Decision-Making in Every Project
Part of the challenge of resolving project issues is the opaque sense of accountability among team members. Often, issues require the decision making skills of the project manager, who can determine what actions to take or recommend outside help if needed.
That said, it’s important to empower all team members with the ability to make decisions if needed. Encourage team members to accept responsibility and, if appropriate, make decisions when needed. If you’re the project manager, it’s important to set a precedent or set of guidelines that enables your team members to make decisions about smaller issues, and only bring larger issues to your attention.
Determine what those factors are and make sure that those guidelines are effectively communicated to your project team. You may want to consider the issue’s impact, cost or team involvement when making these guidelines. This will ensure effective project management.
No project is perfect, but when you have the issue-management skills of a seasoned project manager, you’ll be able to rise above the issues at hand.