lundi 4 novembre 2013

How To Escalate Project Issues

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“I’ve found a little problem,” said one of my project team members the other day. “Can I take you through it?” As it turned out, it wasn’t a little problem at all. It was a big issue with the product design and even though we spent a long time working out how to solve it, we couldn’t come up with an action plan that didn’t involve more time, more money or a dip in project quality. So it wasn’t something I felt comfortable with taking the decision on – it’s my role on a project to implement the sponsor’s wishes, not to approve a budget overspend. The issue needed to be escalated so that my sponsor could make the best decision.
Here are the steps we took in order to escalate the issue, so that you can follow this straight-forward approach if you need to escalate issues on your project.

Establish The Problem

What has actually gone wrong? Getting to the bottom of the problem is the most important first step. This could be relatively easy to work out, or you may have to call a number of meetings to fully understand what’s happened. You have to know everything about the problem in order to be able to fix it, and it’s really embarrassing if your project sponsor asks you a question about the issue and you don’t know the answer! Remember to also log the issue in your issue management software at this point.

Establish The Impact

What impact is this problem going to have on the project? The Wrecking ball & red wall
Maybe it means you’ll be running late and miss a deadline. Or perhaps your quality targets won’t be hit. Or a relationship with a major supplier is in jeopardy. Issues can have multiple impacts on projects and they aren’t always obvious.
Let everyone on your team know about the problem and check how it will impact each of their activities and responsibilities. One of them may be able to tell you about an impact you didn’t expect.

Establish Who To Escalate It To

Most often, you’ll be escalating issues to your project sponsor. But from time to time you may have to raise the problem to someone else, such as the line manager of a resource who is not behaving appropriately, or maybe your Finance department. If in doubt, start with your project sponsor and they can advise you about who else to talk to.

Consider Solutions

Now that you understand the whole problem and the impact it will have on the project, it’s time to think about potential ways to fix it. You need a plan to take to the project sponsor, as you’ll look unprofessional if you turn up with a list of worries but no strategies for solving the problem. Work with your project team to come up with some potential solutions that would resolve your issue.

Decide On A Recommendation

There are normally a few ways to solve problemsrecommendation on projects. You could, for example, spend your way out of trouble. Or bring a few more resources on to the team. Or find a third party supplier to procure a solution from if your in-house options don’t look that good. However, you should decide which would be your preferred strategy. This is the recommendation that you will put to your project sponsor. Ultimately, they will decide on the route forward, but make it easy for them by preparing the details about your proposed solution including the impact on the project schedule, budget and resourcing.

Book Time With Your Sponsor

Don’t spring a problem on your sponsor at a chance meeting by the water cooler. You want the time to discuss it with them properly, presenting the background and discussing the alternatives for resolving it. Book some time with them, so talk to their personal assistant if you need to in order to get a slot in their busy diaries.
You could wait for one of your regular meetings but if the issue is urgent it will be better to have a separate, dedicated discussion with them so that you can get the solution agreed and make a start on fixing the problem. If it is difficult to find time to meet them face to face, for example if they (or you) spend a lot of time travelling, then see if you can go through it over the phone. If you can, send them the details of the problem and the recommendation in advance so that they have time to look it over before the meeting.

Present Your Proposals

At your meeting with your sponsor, run through the problem and your recommended solution. You can also mention the other solutions you have considered and rejected and the reasons why they aren’t the best way forward. Most of the time you’ll find that your sponsor will agree with your recommendation and authorize you to take that forward, but don’t rely on it! Sometimes sponsors have information about the business that you did not have at the time you put together your solutions and this may change the solution that you agree on. They may even have a completely different option that they suggest themselves!

Implement Your Plan

Once you have got a decision from your project proposalsponsor, make the relevant changes to your project schedule and plans. Make sure to update your issue log with the approved solution and action plan. Then it’s just a case of working towards your new tasks and ensuring that everyone knows what has been agreed. Soon that project issue will be a distant memory!
Escalating issues is something that every project manager has to do, so don’t feel bad about taking problems to them. That’s what they are there for – one of the key roles of project sponsors is to unblock difficult situations and make it possible for you to move the project forward. If you present the problem and your solution recommendation in a professional, clear way, it will make it easy for your project sponsor to make the best decision so that you can get on with managing the project to a successful conclusion.
Make it easy to log and monitor project issues with It’s so straightforward to use and you can allocate tasks and track progress with just a few clicks, so the issues are soon under control.

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