Issues vs. Action Items

Kenneth has 14 years of healthcare experience in government and private industry. Over eight years of experience managing healthcare IT projects, operations, contracts, and personnel. His work experience includes project management, contracts and procurements, data analysis, claims adjudication, business writing, and business process modeling. Kenneth was certified in 2006 as a Project Management Professional.

A project without issues is a project that is finished (and sometimes those projects have issues too!). It may often seem that a baseline plan is barely set when issues start cropping up--some of them come from risks that are realized before being mitigated, while some of them come from stakeholders who just realized what else they need from the project.

In addition to the issues, there are action items being generated all over the place. Tasks in the project plan never seem to cover all the work needed, and the action items need to be tracked to make sure they are finished timely. Perhaps the requirements weren’t defined well enough and some rework needs to be done, or perhaps the work being done is generating additional work. Any number of activities on a project can generate action items.

The first thing a project manager needs is an approach to facilitate the completion of issues and action items. Make no mistake, the key word here is “completion”. If the process or management plan doesn’t get results, then it’s not working. Sometimes, the issues and action items are all lumped together in one place: the project plan or an issue log. It is more beneficial though to split it up into separate lists so that different approaches can be used. With everything to be done, there is not often a “one size fits all” solution.

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