Engage the Client Early in Issues Management

Issues management tends to go more smoothly when the entire project team is comfortable working through the issues management process from the very start. If issues arise early in a project, be sure to follow your issues management process and get the client engaged in the solution. Issues become more urgent as you get closer to your end-date.http://cmguide.org/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifDon’t let these be the first issues the client gets involved with. Earlier issues management experience will cause the client to see issues as just temporary hurdles that need to be overcome. If you haven’t engaged the client earlier in the issues management process, the client may cause more harm than good when you absolutely need them at the end, since they are not familiar with the issues management process.http://cmguide.org/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gif

Break Very Large Issues into Smaller Problems

If a large issue looks too difficult to be resolved in a timely manner, break it down into logical sub-issues. In many cases, the resolution of an initial sub-issue will drive the solution for the remainder of the issue. If it does not, it at least lets people understand the components of the issue, so that they can be attacked and resolved individually.

Look for Common Causes if You Find Multiple Issues in a Short Timeframe

Sometimes you may encounter a number of them in a short timeframe. If you find multiple issues in a short time, look to see if some are related. If so, try to resolve the issue that looks like more of a root cause. The resolution of this issue may substantially resolve others.

If the issues look independent, try to resolve those with the most negative impact on the project first.

Make Sure Your Team Meets Your Deadlines – Even  When the Customer is Not Meeting Theirs

Many project managers face situations where they are asked to meet fixed dates with very little, if any, margin for slippage. It is hard enough to manage the dates on your own team, but sometimes your clients magnify the challenge by not meeting their commitments. For instance, they may not be available when you need them or they may not approve critical deliverables when they say they will. This can lead to more project delays.

From a project management perspective, you need to proactively utilize risk management, issues management, scope management, and proactive communication to your best advantage.

  • Manage client deadlines as a risk. Identifying client responsiveness as a risk allows you to communicate the concern and maintain focus on the risk throughout the project. It also allows you to identify additional activities that will help you manage this risk.
  • Manage communication and expectations. Proactive communications will help ensure that your clients understand what is expected of them and the consequences of missing their deadline dates.
  • Manage missed deadlines as an issue. If the clients end up not meeting their dates in spite of your risk management plans, then you have an issue that needs to be addressed. Issues management (problem identification and resolution) needs to be performed. You do not have direct authority over the clients, so the issues management process helps you gain more visibility from your manager and the client managers for helping to resolve project resource problems.

Although it appears that you are being held accountable for client behavior that is not within your control, you do have control over the processes you use to manage the project. Manage risk, communication and issues proactively and utilize your manager and your sponsor to try to get everyone focused on meeting the deadlines.


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