6.0 Manage Issues


Issues are more than just common problems. They are problems that meet specific criteria.

An issue is a formally-defined problem that will impede the progress of the program or project and cannot be totally resolved by the project manager and project team without outside help. Let’s look at that definition again.

  • A formally defined problem. You must be able to document a problem if you hope to resolve it. While the problem is formless and vague it cannot be solved. In addition, you need to be able to communicate the nature of issues and this requires that they be documented as well.

  • Impede the progress of the program or project. There are many problems that exist but do not have an impact on your program or project. Likewise there are also problems that arise all the time that are not significant enough to impact your progress. Issues do have an impact on the program or project.

  • Cannot be totally resolved ... without outside help. This is also a key point. If the program or project team can resolve a problem it does not raise to the level of an issue. The program or project team may have some influence on resolving an issue, but the resolution is not totally in their control.  

The nature of programs is that they are more complex and will encounter more issues than individual projects. The program is responsible for program level issues and needs to monitor project level issues. They cannot be ignored and they cannot be deferred to some later time. Issues must be resolved quickly and effectively.

Issues are managed at two levels.

  • Program issues. These are owned and proactively managed at the program level.

  • Project issues. Guidance is given from the program to the projects on the process for managing issues. This is in the Issues Management Plan that is part of the Program Management Plan. (If you did not create an Issues Management Plan the issues management processes would have been defined as a part of creating the program infrastructure.) Project issues are monitored at the program level to ensure they are tracked and actively managed. There are times when common issues are raised to the program level to solve once for all projects.

Since the nature of issues is that they require outside help, it would not be uncommon for the project issues to require help from the program to resolve.

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6.1 Manage Issues / Process

6.2 Manage Issues / Techniques

6.3 Managing Project Issues within a Program

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