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Introduction to Issue Management Tutorial

1 Introduction to Issue Management

This lesson focuses on issue management. Let us begin with the objectives of this lesson in the next screen.

2 Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to: ? Describe issue ? Identify the steps involved in the issue management framework ? Discuss threat and opportunity responses ? Explain configuration management Let us move on to the next screen to discuss issues.

3 Issues Introduction

Issue is a relevant and unplanned event that requires management action to prevent or reduce its impact on programme. The action may be required to fix the problem or to change the boundary of the programme. An issue can emerge from numerous sources such as constraints identified at the outset of a programme, stakeholders, participating projects or operations and external sources, namely, corporate strategy and conflict with other programmes. Issues that occur in a project may need to be escalated if they fall outside the project’s tolerance levels set by the programme. But otherwise, the programme should not manage project issues directly. Project teams can report to the Programme Manager and keep him informed about the progress in managing issues. We will discuss the threat responses in the next screen.

4 Threat Responses

The following are the responses for threat: The first option is avoid. It is about making the uncertain situation certain by removing the risk. This can often be achieved by removing the cause of threat. The second option is reduce: It chooses a definite action to change the probability or impact of the risk. The term ‘mitigate’ is relevant when discussing the reduction of a threat; that is, making threat less likely to occur or reduce the impact of threat. The third option is transfer. It aims to pass a part of the risk to a third party. Insurance is a classic example of transfer, where the insurer picks up the risk cost but the insured retains the impact on other objectives. The next option is share. ‘Share’ is different from ‘transfer’ in the sense that it seeks multiple parties, typically within the supply chain, to share the risk on a pain or gain share basis. The primary risk taker will always need to protect their brand and reputation, however, they encourage collaboration on risk management activities. The fifth option is accept. It means that the organisation accepts that risks will occur, with their full impact. There are no costs incurred in this option. An example is risk to profits, due to currency fluctuations. The last option is prepare contingent plans. It means that plans will be prepared, however, no action will be taken until risks occur. All the responses for threat, other than “accept”, incur some cost and should ensure the return on investment. In the next screen, let us understand the opportunity responses.

5 Opportunity Responses

The following are the responses for opportunities. The first option is exploit. It is about increasing and strengthening the cause of opportunity. This will ensure that the opportunity is better than when it was first identified. The second option is enhance. The organisation ensures that opportunity is more likely to occur and with greater impact. The next option is share. It is the same as sharing a threat. Risks are shared with third party on a pain or gain basis. The fourth option is accept. It allows the opportunity to occur without any planned intervention, irrespective of whether it is a positive or negative opportunity. The fifth option is transfer. In this case, the third party gains a cost benefit, however, the primary risk taker gets another benefit such as goodwill. Though, this is not usually a preferred option. The last option is prepare contingent plans. It is about preparing a fall back plan if exploiting the opportunities has not been as successful as expected. All the responses for opportunities, other than “accept”, incur some cost and should ensure the return on investment. In the following screen, we will focus on issue management framework.

6 Issue Management Framework

Issue management framework is similar to risk management framework. The following are the five steps of issue management framework The first step is to capture, where the initial analysis is undertaken to determine the type of issue that has been raised. The rules for this are laid down by the issue management strategy. The issues are categorised and their severity and impact are assessed. The second step is to examine the issue using impact analysis, which analyses the impact of issues and options on the programme’s performance and business case, risk profile, projects, objectives, blueprint and operations. In the third step, which is ‘propose a course of action’, all the alternative options are considered before choosing the most effective solution. The action chosen should maintain an acceptable balance between the advantage and the impact on time, cost and risk. The fourth step is to decide. Issue management strategy defines who has the authority to take decisions about changes. The Programme Manager should take decisions on minor issues without consultation. Programme change procedures defined in issue management strategy should be triggered to gain authority and control of change. It is important to plan the change with appropriate contingency measures. The last step is to implement the decided change. The Programme Manager will communicate the decision and response action to all stakeholders, including those who have raised the issue. The issue register is updated and other documents are revised where the decision affects their content. It is essential to record lessons learnt so that issues of similar type can be avoided in future. These steps are supported by ongoing activities, namely, ‘monitor and control’ and ‘embed and review’. Monitor and control process actively monitors the issue management actions to ensure the resolutions are achieved within the estimated time and the costs and without impacting other benefits. Embed and review process ensures that the issue management is successfully handled across the organisation and conducts health checks to ensure returns on issue management. In the next screen, we will look into the issue management strategy and issue register.

7 Issue Management Strategy and Issue Register

Let us first understand issue management strategy. Issue management strategy describes the programme’s approach to issue management and outlines how issues will be identified, categorised, severity-rated and managed. It also defines change control procedure. Now let us focus on issue register. The issue register is created during the process ‘defining a programme’, and it helps to record issues. It includes former risks that have materialized. The design, content and purpose of the issue register are defined in the issue management strategy. Let us discuss change control in the following screen.

8 Change Control

Programmes deliver change but they cannot work in isolation. The changes that happen to the programme environment will impact the programme and need to be controlled. This can result in changing business requirements and reactions to unplanned events or failures. Even small changes required in projects may result in conflicts with the programme’s interests. To ensure good governance, a formal change control process is needed. The steps needed in the change control process are capture the change and define why it is needed, allocate priority to indicate urgency, assess the impact, analyse all the options and test the potential solutions, authorise an agreed solution, implement the change and monitor the effects of change for deviations from what is anticipated, review effectiveness and update associated documentation. All changes should be assessed based on their impact on the programme plan, blueprint, benefits and projects dossier. We will now look into configuration management in the next screen.

9 Configuration Management

Programme changes are processed via issue management while configuration management provides the control for managing these changes. Purpose of configuration management in a programme is to control the development of, and changes to, programme management documentation and assets, products and services created by programme. The following are the five basic processes involved in programme-level configuration management. Let us begin with planning. It includes decisions regarding what level of configuration management is appropriate based on blueprint and organisation’s approach to configuration management. The next process is identifying. This includes identifying all the assets created during the programme and dependencies for which the configuration management is required. The third process is controlling. The configuration of the programme is baselined once the definition of the programme in document is approved. As most programmes change over time, version control changes are needed in the configuration document along with other documents. The next process is status accounting. This involves maintaining the current and the historical information concerned with each configuration, such as, the configuration items and all dependencies including those external to the programme as well as inter-project dependencies. The fifth process is verifying. This includes auditing the programme to ensure that there is conformity between the expected and actual status of the products and the configuration items before the delivery to operations. In the next screen, we will focus on an example based on the concepts discussed.

10 Responses Problem

As part of the Nutri Snack, a programme to create a healthy evening snack, the R&D department of Nutri Worldwide Inc. has decided to import the highest level cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast. But the past experience with the vendor XYZ used by the organisation suggests that the former does not have a good network in Africa and may delay the import. Following are some of the risk responses under discussion: 1. Use coffee beans instead of cocoa beans because the former is easily available. 2. Put a clause in the contract that any delay in delivery will lead to penalty for the vendor XYZ. 3. Ask a different vendor ABC to get cocoa beans from Brazil. The quality might not be same though. 4. Insure the consignment against delay. In the next screen, let us see how to categorise these risk responses as Reduce, Accept, Avoid, Share and Transfer.

11 Risk Responses Solution

Following are the risk responses that may be undertaken by the R&D department of Nutri Worldwide Inc. Firstly, coffee beans should be used instead of cocoa beans because the former is easily available. This is the response named ‘avoid’ as the risk of delay is eliminated in this case. Secondly, a clause should be included in the contract that any delay in delivery will lead to penalty for the vendor XYZ. This risk response is known as ‘share’ as a part of the loss is to be borne by the vendor as well. Thirdly, the vendor should be asked to get cocoa beans from Brazil. The quality might not be same though. In this case, the organisation would try to reduce the impact. This risk response is known as ‘reduce’. So, even if the organisation may not get the best quality seeds, they will have cocoa available for the recipe. Finally, the consignment should be insured against delay. Insurance is similar to transferring the risk as it passes the risk to a third party.

12 Summary

Let us summarise what we have learnt in this lesson: Issue is a relevant and unplanned event that requires management action to prevent or reduce its impact on programme. The steps involved in the issue management framework are capture, examine, propose a course of action, decide and implement. The threat responses are avoid, reduce, transfer, share, accept and prepare contingent plans. The opportunity responses are exploit, enhance, share, accept, transfer and prepare contingent plans. Configuration management provides the control for managing the changes in a programme. Next, we will focus on risk and issue management within the transformational flow.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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