Issue Management

Let’s look at issue management within program execution.

What is issue management?

Issue management is all about healing your program.

An issue is a current problem or challenge that is actively disrupting the progress and success of the program. These could be risks that were not sufficiently mitigated or unanticipated issues.

Successfully mitigating an issue includes identifying the root cause, developing a plan to resolve it, and implementing that plan. It is also important to monitor and track the progress of resolving issues to ensure they are resolved in a timely manner.

As the TPgM, you own issue management across the entire program. Your primary responsibility is to drive ownership and collaboration with those best equipped to handle the issue.

Best practices for issue management

Many of the same principles can be borrowed from risk management. Let's walk through a few specific details that are specific to issue management:

  • Evaluate the severity of the issue: This will help properly gauge the program team's urgency to address the issue. Risk management also considers likelihood, but given the fact that this has already happened, we can safely say that the likelihood for all issues is 100%.

  • Prioritize issues: If there are multiple issues happening at the same time, it is important that you step in with a calm but urgent attitude. Help the teams effectively prioritize the issues, then execute.

  • Drive ownership: Who is best positioned to handle the issue? What is the nature of the issue? Do we need a technical solution? Do we need legal action?

  • Prioritize action: When dealing with issues, the urgency of a situation may make it impossible to perform proper root cause analysis in real time. The next best action is to mitigate the negative implications of an issue, knowing that you will later perform a postmortem on it.

  • Communicate the issue: Communicate the severity and mitigation plan to the stakeholders. Don't delay in doing this, but remember to have at least a drafted plan to address the issue included in your communication to relevant stakeholders. It is critical that you communicate with clarity. You want to inspire confidence, not set off alarms across the company.

  • Follow internal processes: Some companies have well-defined internal processes for incident management. Adhere to those standards.

  • Conduct a postmortem: A postmortem is typically conducted after an incident has been resolved and is designed to help the team understand what caused the incident, how it was handled, and what changes can be made to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future. The postmortem typically includes a review of the incident's timeline, the actions taken by the incident response team, and the effectiveness of the incident response plan.


Risk and issue management share a lot of best practices, which is why this lesson is so short.

The best mindset to have with issue management is to simply prioritize and execute. If you spend too much time talking about an issue rather than dealing with it, it may worsen. Prioritize quickly, execute swiftly.

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