Risks vs Issues

In project management, risks are potential future events that could impact the project's objectives, requiring proactive strategies to mitigate their effects. In contrast, issues are current problems that have already occurred, necessitating immediate resolution to minimise disruption. Effective management of both involves distinct approaches: risk management focuses on anticipation and prevention, while issue management addresses and resolves present challenges to keep the project on track.

Risks vs Issues

Effective issue management is a crucial aspect of project management, as it enables project teams to identify, analyse, and resolve problems that can impact the project’s timeline, budget, and overall success. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), issue management is a critical component of project management, as it helps to minimise the impact of unexpected events and ensure that the project stays on track (PMI, 2020).

An issue, in the context of project management, refers to any problem or concern that arises during the project lifecycle that can impact the project’s objectives. Issues can arise from various sources, including changes in project scope, delays in task completion, resource constraints, and stakeholder expectations (Kerzner, 2017). If left unaddressed, issues can escalate into major problems, leading to project delays, cost overruns, and even project failure.

The importance of issue management cannot be overstated. A study by the Standish Group found that projects with effective issue management processes are more likely to succeed, with 71% of successful projects having a formal issue management process in place (Standish Group, 2013). On the other hand, projects without a formal issue management process are more likely to fail, with 82% of failed projects lacking such a process.

So, how can project managers effectively manage issues in their projects? The first step is to establish a formal issue management process that includes issue identification, analysis, prioritization, and resolution. This process should be documented and communicated to all project stakeholders (ISO, 2015).

Issue identification involves recognising potential problems or concerns that can impact the project. This can be done through regular project status updates, stakeholder feedback, and monitoring of project metrics (Kerzner, 2017). Once an issue is identified, it should be analysed to determine its impact on the project and potential solutions. This involves assessing the issue’s severity, urgency, and potential impact on the project’s objectives (PMI, 2020).

Prioritization is a critical step in issue management, as it enables project teams to focus on the most critical issues that require immediate attention. Issues should be prioritised based on their severity, urgency, and potential impact on the project (ISO, 2015). Finally, issue resolution involves implementing the agreed-upon solution and monitoring its effectiveness.

Effective issue management also requires a collaborative approach, involving all project stakeholders. This includes project team members, sponsors, customers, and end-users (Kerzner, 2017). Stakeholders should be informed of issues and their resolution, and their input should be sought in the issue management process.

In addition to establishing a formal issue management process, project managers can use various tools and techniques to manage issues effectively. These include issue logs, which provide a centralised repository for tracking and managing issues (PMI, 2020). Other tools and techniques include root cause analysis, which helps to identify the underlying causes of issues, and Pareto analysis, which enables project teams to focus on the most critical issues (ISO, 2015).

In conclusion, issue management is a critical aspect of project management that enables project teams to identify, analyse, and resolve problems that can impact the project’s success. By establishing a formal issue management process, involving all project stakeholders, and using various tools and techniques, project managers can minimise the impact of issues and ensure that their projects stay on track.

Referenced techniques


Positive Risk Management

Negative risks are clearly of great concern to organisations. However, it is increasingly recognised that the term “risk” is often too narrowly defined. Positive risk management is primarily concerned with identifying, assessing and managing potentially beneficial outcomes.

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