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Monday, July 29, 2013

Project Management - Writing down the issues as they come to you ..

One of the most difficult items that would come up during my experience as a project manager was about collating issues for later use. For example, there could be an issue with a team member in terms of their productivity, or issues with a vendor about their quality standard, or even responsiveness to an email sent for a query, and so on. There are numerous items that pop up like this during the course of a project, and the project manager has to resolve then on an ongoing basis. This is the typical life of a project manager.
However, I found that even though these items were resolved on a regular basis, the lack of capturing them in a detailed way made things difficult later. One of the prime examples of this was about interaction with an external team. We went through a post-mortem with the team, after a cycle where the external team had caused us some amount of grief. There were deliveries that were not on schedule, the quality level of one of the deliveries was bad enough that the delivery was rejected (although to get to the point of rejection took a couple of testers a period of around 2 days, and we did not really want to spend this kind of time period for this delivery of an external component).
Similarly, at the end of the cycle (and sometimes during the period of the cycle) there would be the need for feedback on team members, typically other managers, based on the cycle and the quality of their work. However, in all these cases, there were problems. When you are going through a busy cycle, how often do you really remember what happened in specific instances; and there is a lot of feedback that you should not look too much in the past but look towards the future.
So what would you do ? I would typically keep a specific file that would list issues where I thought some later feedback is required or where I felt that the person to whom I was corresponding could have dealt with issues better and I kept the same file in a special folder, and also kept copies of the relevant emails on this subject in the same folder detail.
Not only did this help in driving specific issues through later post-mortem, but even for my study, where I was discussing these sort of issues to drive process changes or improvements, it would really help that I could recall specific issues, the conclusions, my feedback on whether there were specific improvements that could be made, and also had email to even correct people if they pointed out something that was different from what had actually happened (and you would not believe how many times something like this had actually happened).

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