Project Management

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Topics: PMO, Risk Management, Using PMI Standards
“Issues” and “Issue Log”, a decisive component of Risk Mgmt., Comm. Plan, Conflict Mgmt., or PMBOK’s entirety?

Note: All references to "PMBOK" are that of v5, unless otherwise noted.

The term, “issues” is used in many sections of the PMBOK. One just needs to search for the word to see its common use in accordance with the Merriam-Webster definition we likely use during our daily lives, “a matter that is in dispute between two or more parties”, or “an important topic or problem for debate or discussion". These closely match the definition provided by the PMBOK:

"Issue. A point or matter in question or in dispute, or a point or matter that is not settled and is under discussion or over which there are opposing views or disagreements."

The document and term, “Issue Log” is defined by the PMBOK as:

"Issue Log. A project document used to document and monitor elements under discussion or in dispute between project stakeholders."

The Issue Log is a component of the following PMBOK knowledge areas:

• 9.4 Manage Project Team (Input)
• 13.3 Manage Stakeholder Engagement (Output)
• 9 Project Human Resource Management (Input)
• 10.3 Control Communications (Input)
• 13.3 Manage Stakeholder Engagement (Output)
• 13.4 Control Stakeholder Engagement (Inputs)

Here are more detailed descriptions of the Issue Log and it’s use, found in the PMBOK: Issue Log
Issues arise in the course of managing the project team. An issue log can be used to document and monitor who is responsible for resolving specific issues by a target date. Issue Log
Described in Section An issue log is used to document and monitor the resolution of issues. It may be used to facilitate communication and ensure a common understanding of issues. A written log documents and helps to monitor who is responsible for resolving specific issues by a target date. Issue resolution addresses obstacles that can block the team from achieving its goals. This information is important to the Control Communications process as it provides both a repository for what has already happened in the project and a platform for subsequent communications to be delivered. Issue Log
Described in Section The issue log is updated as new issues are identified and current issues are resolved.

Other relevant PMBOK definitions:

"Conflict Management. Handling, controlling, and guiding a conflictual situation to achieve a resolution."

"Control Risks. The process of implementing risk response plans, tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, and evaluating risk process effectiveness throughout the project."

"Project Risk Management. Project Risk Management includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project."


It seems abundantly clear that “Issues” can come from anywhere/process (incl. risks, communication, conflicts, stakeholders, etc.), at any time, and is independent of a Risk Register and risk management, but can include risks, with a very high degree of priority and should be continuously managed throughout the project.

However, various discussions around "issues" have produced a different, more finite viewpoint.

One PMI article, titled, “Risks vs. issues” reflects an agreement between two PMs that issues are a reactive/escalated list of risks. Other articles on the web support the same viewpoint, differing viewpoints, or are discussed in different context (incl. Communication Planning).


Another article titled, “Dealing with Change Requests and Issue Management” mentioned issues alongside change requests, with no direct correlation found to project risks or risk management.


Finally, I found an article titled, “Effectively Handling Project Issues, Risks, and Actions” to me more in line with the PMBOK, as I interpret its intent.



What is your personal experience?
Is there a consensus among certain groups (e.g. leading PMOs)?
Is there a universally reputable reference, providing clear “Issue Management” (e.g. ISO)?
Is "Issue Management" a potential segment for PMBOK v6?

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