An issue is a threat which could affect the objectives or operations of a project. Unlike a risk, which is an uncertain event, an issue is a reality which may have already occurred or is about to occur.
The difference between an issue and a problem is that an issue is a change or potential change of external circumstances outside the control of the project manager. A problem, on the other hand, is a day-to-day adverse event which the project manager has to deal with as a matter of routine. An issue therefore requires to be brought to the attention of a higher authority such as the project board, steering group or the programme manager, since it may well require additional resources, either human, financial or physical (material) which require sanctioning by senior management.
As with other types of changes, a register of issues, often called an issue log, must be set up and kept up to date. This not only records the type, source and date of the issue to be addressed, but also shows to whom it was circulated, the effect in terms of cost, time and performance it has on the project and how it was resolved. If the issue is large or complex, it may, as with particular risks, be necessary to appoint an issue owner (or resolution owner) who will be responsible for implementing the agreed actions to resolve the matter.
The way an issue is resolved depends clearly on the size and complexity. Again as with change requests, other departments which may be affected have to be advised and consulted and in serious situations, special meetings may have to be convened to discuss the matter in depth and sufficient detail to enable proposals for a realistic solution to be tabled. Care must be taken not to escalate inevitable problems which arise during the course of a project to the status of an issue, as this would take up valuable management time of the members of a steering group or senior management. As is so often the case with project management, judgement and experience are the key attributes for handling the threats and vicissitudes of a project.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.