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Managing Your CRM Implementation: Part 1 - Issue Management

You made it through your CRM software selection. That’s a big milestone and one worthy of celebration! And now it’s time to deliver the system, and that can be tough – stakeholders, business units, end users, business requirements, enhancements, customizations, integrations, data conversions, you name it. So how do you maximize your chances for success? You know: on-time, on-budget, on-scope, and on-quality. We’ve all heard it before but easier said than done…

Well, for a resourceful IT professional there are many things that can be done.

Project management is good place to start. In this series of posts, we’ll take a look at some important project management processes. We’ll start with the basics and work our way up to some of the more challenging topics. This post will be on Issue Management.

Issue Management – What is it?

Issue Management is the ongoing process of identifying, analyzing, and (hopefully) resolving project obstacles. These could be just about anything related to the project including cost, scope, schedule, quality or resources. Depending on the obstacle, issue management can also be about monitoring and/or escalating a problem.

Why Bother?

There are many good reasons for rigorous issue management. One such reason is to ensure critical issues (those impacting schedule, scope, cost and/or quality) are quickly identified to communicate, proactively resolve and escalate issues in a timely manner. This allows the practitioner to focus their attention on managing issues and on minimizing the significance of the impact. Another reason is to produce meaningful information that allows management to focus efforts on the “right” issues with an effective coordination of effort. Further, it helps ensure stakeholders are informed and, if applicable, participate in the resolution.

Issues vs. Risks: What’s the Difference?

Issues and Risks are often confused. That’s not good because they need to be managed differently (and we’ll talk about Risk Management in a future post). Issues are related to but distinct from risks. Simply put – Issues have happened already, but risks have not. Some characteristics of an issue: issues are reactively found during the project and they are (usually) resolvable via one of more actions items or via escalation. Risks, on the other hand, can be identified before the project even starts. Many times they cannot be resolved but only managed or mitigated. But risks that come to fruition can become issues. This is frequently where the confusion lies.

Is there a Process?

Like most project management disciplines issue management has a process. This process varies from organization to organization but a typical process looks something like this:

  • Capture Issue – identify the problem, document it and assign an issue manager

  • Validate Issue – triage the issue and assess the level of impact. Establish a due date and assign an owner

  • Resolve Issue – define the solution and plan the steps to resolve. Monitor or escalate issues, as applicable.

  • Implement Solution – implement and verify the issue resolution, document solution progress and close the issue.

Key Fields?

A lot of information can be collected and used to define and manage issues. Let’s talk about a few of the more important fields here. These fields typically place a role in issue reporting.

  • Name – name of the issue

  • Description – brief description of the issue

  • Date Identified – date the issue was identified

  • Assigned To – person to whom the issue is assigned for resolution

  • Issue Status – the status of the issues (e.g., open, rejected, closed)

  • Priority – the priority of the issue (e.g., 1-critical, 2-high, 3-medium, 4-low) (It’s a good practice to have a standard definition for each priority to ensure a consistent and meaningful classification of each issue).

  • Due Date – date the issue should be resolved

These basics provide a solid foundation to define the process in support of your implementation. If you would like more information about issue management or other project management best practices, please contact us! We’re here to help.

Ed Crantz is the CEO of BrightVine Solutions.

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