Reduce Issues with an Issue Log

A dedicated project manager working on a particular undertaking has already formulated a project plan. He or she begins to put together the needed items to carry out the project, and along the way, schedules tasks, makes changes, encounters questions and performs other functions. In addition to the project schedule and budget, he or she will want to be sure that thorough and precise tracking of issues is handled well. One way to achieve this is with an issue log.

What should an issue log include?

There are several attributes of an issue to include on an issue log:

  • Issue status (open/closed/escalated)
  • Date opened
  • Date of status update
  • Description of the issue
  • Budget impact
  • Schedule impact
  • Client/customer impact
  • Other impact analysis
  • Priority (urgent/time sensitive; important/valuable to the strategic plan; moderate; low)
  • Resolution plan
  • Individual responsible
  • Target date for resolution
  • Date closed

The project team and possibly additional stakeholders may be involved in processing the issues and evaluating the best courses of action to resolve them. The project manager should assign individuals who will be responsible for resolving issues, becoming the “issue owner.” During project team meetings, issues should be reviewed for status updates on the resolution plans. Urgent, high-priority issues that remain unresolved for extended periods of time place the project at greater risk.

What type of format should be used?

Some project managers use CRM tools to record issues, and MS Project and other similar tools have functionality that can facilitate issue tracking. If software products are not available, the project manager can use an Excel spreadsheet or a Google Doc to record, monitor and report on the status of issues.

What happens if the project manager fails to keep an issue log?

  • Issue logs are fundamental records for project managers. Failure to properly maintain a project’s issue log could mean disaster. If a project has a budget or scheduling issue, and great care is not taken to develop an action plan to respond, large sums of time and money can be lost.
  • Further, there are other potential liabilities to consider if issues are not managed timely and effectively. For example, the permits secured might become void due to a commensurate lapse in time, and resources can be lost while re-applying for them.

Is there a need to keep the issue log when the project is complete?

The project manager will want to retain his or her issue log even after the project is completed. Some companies may require a record to be kept in their database, but even if not mandated, archived issue logs are helpful when looking back at a project as a frame of reference. Sometimes one can learn how to avoid repeating errors when reviewing details of a similar project completed in the past.

Learn More

Founded in 1948, Brandeis University is an internationally recognized research institution with the intimacy and personal attention of a small liberal arts college. Brandeis University is pleased to offer its M.S. in Project and Program Management (MSPPM) in a convenient online format for working professionals interested in project management.


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