As part of my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, I took a continuing education course on project management best practices taught by Dr. Harold Kerzner. During the class, one thing he said that I will always remember is that best practices in one company don’t necessarily translate to best practices in another. And in my experience, I have found that to be true. Each customer I have worked with has management with different levels of experience. Sometimes the management philosophies are basically the same across some organizations, but I find that interpretation of a philosophy or use of a particular methodology can be wildly different.
So if you believe that best practices are not universally applicable, let me redefine issue management best practices to something more like “effective practices for issue management”. Regardless of what you call it, I trust in your intelligence to take what I have to say and apply it to your situation appropriately.
You need a champion
For issue management to reach its potential in an organization, there needs to be a champion. If you don’t have a champion, issue management will happen sporadically at best. Sporadic issue management is better than no issue management, but since we are talking about “best” practices, we need a champion. A champion is the person in an organization that keeps alive the dream of nothing falling through the cracks.
Tailor your process to the lowest common denominator
Whatever the process you define or redefine for issue management, make it simple and easy enough for all people involved to keep the process moving. You do not want to create page after page of how to discover and get approval to submit the issue, categorize and prioritize based on a proprietary quantum physics formula, and overly restrict who can take action on keeping the issue moving through the process. Shoot for the simplest and most concise process possible based on your particular situation. You can always add or change process steps later. You want to get a process up and running so you have a working model to optimize. If you have to shut down the process in an attempt to perfect it, issues will start falling through the cracks while you are running the wrong race. The objectives are to notice an issue when it happens and get it resolved in a fast and effective manner.