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Presentation Recap: Show Me Your RAID Log!
Categories: Global Summit
By: Kim Essendrup
I had the amazing opportunity to speak about RAID logs at the 2022 PMI Global Summit. My talk was called, Show me your RAID Log, and provided some background on this “old-school” project management tool and highlighted how it is still very relevant for today’s project leaders.
There seems to be huge interest in RAID logs. To my surprise, even though we had a session late in the day on the last day of the conference, we had a full session – the line to get in went all the way down the hall!
Figure 1: Show Me Your RAID Log Session
As part of my talk, I asked participants to complete a quick survey about RAID logs to better understand their awareness and usage of RAID logs. The survey link was available to attendees prior to the session to help avoid any influence my talk may have had on responses. In this blog post, I’ll share the results of that survey and offer some commentary. At the end of the article, I will have a link for an infographic we made containing all the survey results.
Question 1: Have You Ever Used a RAID Log Before?
In speaking with Summit attendees during the conference, we found that about 25% of attendees were not immediately familiar with the term, “RAID Log” but were familiar with the concept of tracking risks and issues in a Risk Register or Issues Register. Our survey results found that over 70% of attendees have used a RAID log before – demonstrating that, at least among my session attendees, there is broad usage of this tool.
Question 2: Are You Using a RAID Log Currently for a Project You are Managing?
Knowing about a tool doesn’t mean you actually get use out of it, so next we asked how many attendees currently use a RAID log. We found that over 57% of our audience were currently using RAID logs. This represents over 80% of attendees who say they have ever used a RAID log, indicating that it is a high value tool for those who use them.
Question 3: What are the Top Benefits You Get from Using a RAID Log?
This was a fun question. Although as PMs we intuitively know there is value in using RAID logs to keep our projects on track, it was interesting to hear about the specific benefits that PMs get from this tool.
By far, the #1 answer was, Keeps me organized. In fact, 93% of all respondents who say they use a RAID log listed organization as a key benefit. When we talk about RAID logs, we talk a lot about the benefits of managing risks and issues, keeping projects out of trouble and of communicating with stakeholders and team members. But it’s interesting to see that our attendees felt the most common benefit of using a RAID log was to keep them organized as Project Managers. Even in a world of literally hundreds of tools for project management and personal organization, the simple RAID log seems to still provide strong value.
When coaching PMs, I actually see this quite often. RAID logs are the tool PMs use to manage the day-to-day operations of their projects. They are very flexible and extensible, making them a great tool for tracking and organizing the many things a PM has to stay on top of. This is particularly true when PMs manage have to manage multiple projects. Having a tool that orients you when “task switching” from one project to another is incredibly useful.
Question 4: What are the Greatest Challenges You Have Using a RAID Log Today?
The top answer to this question was not much of a surprise, as it is one that I think we all have struggled with: Self-discipline to keep it up to date. As great an organizational tool as it is, the discipline to keep it up is key to its success. In my session, I shared some techniques for keeping on-track and up to date with our RAID logs. But based on this survey, we will be developing more content and tools to make it easier for project leaders keep their RAID logs up to date.
Interestingly, nearly a quarter of respondents felt like they lacked enough knowledge about RAID logs to use them effectively. Although some of the components of a RAID log, such as a risk and issue register, are a core part of the PMI body of knowledge, RAID logs are more than their sum of their parts.
Though the scope of this survey was limited to PMI Global Summit attendees, there are still some useful take-aways we can gain from this survey:
If you would like to download and share an infographic on our findings, you can find it here.
I had a great time presenting, and the full presentation will be on demand through 31 January 2023. Visit
Show Me Your RAID Log!
Categories: Global Summit
By: Kim Essendrup
“I've made all the mistakes I'm going to try to help you avoid today" ~ Kim Essendrup, PMP
Often times, project managers get to a point in their career where they are trusted to go in and rescue projects that are in trouble – something like “the wolf” from Pulp Fiction. This is a tough job, but one that is, unfortunately, far too necessary. The Standish Group’s CHAOS report finds that 31% of projects fail – which is a lot of projects that need help. And with $1.7 trillion in annual capital spend in the US, according to the US Census Bureau, that’s a lot of project investment on the line.
Like many other project managers, I’ve had to play the role of the cleaner many occasions and sort out broken projects. It is a tough job, but one which presents a unique opportunity to learn from projects as they are in the very process of failing.
RAID Me Not
There are of course a lot of lessons to be learned from these failures; what causes projects to fail, what things do and do not work to fix a broken project, and when it is time to make the hard call that a project is not worth rescuing. These are very important lessons because *none* of us wants to be in a position where our projects need rescuing, nor do we want to have to need someone come in and save our projects for us.
Of all the lessons I’ve learned from working with troubled projects, the one that is most actionable is this: I have never had to save a project which had an up-to-date RAID log.
That’s not to say that simply keeping a RAID log will solve all your problems. But it may be that using a RAID log will help you manage those problems well enough that you don’t need rescuing.
What is a RAID Log?
A RAID log is a simple but powerful tool for managing the delivery of work. The origins of RAID logs are lost to the dust of time - they were old-school 20+ years ago when I first learned about them. In its original and most simple form, a RAID log is a spreadsheet with four tabs; one each for tracking Risks, Action items, Issues, and Decisions (R.A.I.D.) for a project.
RAID logs are not the project plan. They are the tool you use to execute your project and manage your plan to success. While it seems like there is a new project management app released almost every week, nearly all of these tools focus on tasks management – whether they have GANTT charts and Kanban boards with bright colors, most of these tools focus on task management, with a few going beyond to do some resource and financial planning as well.
But unfortunately, the plan is not where projects go wrong. Projects go wrong because of unmanaged Risks, out of control Issues, forgotten Action items and poor Decision making. And the best tool to manage risks, actions, issues and decisions? The simple RAID log.
But I work Agile. Why would I need RAID?
Agile ways of working have significantly impacted project delivery for the better. Prioritizing people over processes, focusing on deliverables over documentation, being open to collaboration and responding to change all improve the efficiency of delivery. But does that mean there are no more risks? Does that mean issues are a thing of the past and that action items and decisions are no longer relevant? Of course not. A RAID log is just as useful and relevant whether you follow an agile methodology or a more predictive “waterfall” methodology.
In one of the few books on the topic, “Agile Risk Management” by Dr. Alan Moran, the author recommends an approach that is in-line with traditional project risk management. This includes analyzing organizational tolerance for risk and developing a “Risk List,” which is simply the beginning of a RAID log.
Although it’s an “old school” tool, a RAID log is a critical tool for all project managers. This is why I’ll be speaking about RAID logs at this December’s PMI Global Summit. In this talk, I’ll talk in more detail about what goes into a RAID log, how to use one if you are new to RAID, and some new ways to use a RAID log that I think will be interesting for even the most experience project managers. I’ll even share a couple horror stories about how RAID logs saved the day on some of my project rescue missions.
Are you interested in learning more and furthering the dialogue? Join me on Saturday, 3 December at 9:45 AM, 45 mins at the Global Summit or Virtual Experience Series for this presentation and take part in the question and answers with me and the rest of the PM community.