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Issues and risks are not quite the same thing. However, the exact nature of both is largely unknown before you begin.
RISKS: With risks, you usually have a general idea in advance that there's a cause for concern. However, you do not know if it will occur. For this reason we call risks "known unknowns". You can develop a plan to manage risks proactively with responses that you've already thought through and pre-planned.
ISSUES: An issue, on the other hand, tends to be less predictable; it can arise with no warning, it is unforseen. For this reason when issues arise, we call them "unknown unknowns".  For example, being unable to find qualified staff is an identifiable risk. However, when one of your staff is in a car accident, and hospitalized for three weeks, that becomes an issue! You will not have a plan for issues but you have to deal with them as they happen.
Note: Some people also include 'risks that have materialized' as issues. This is not preferred, because 'risks that have materialized' were already identified and have risk responses assigned to them.

How do you deal with issues quickly and effectively?


   1.  Start with an Issue Log like the one below. This information is complements of


Your issues log is an excellent tool for reporting and communicating issues as they arise. This helps ensure that issues get investigated and resolved quickly and effectively.


You can include the following information in your issues log:

  • Issue type – Define the categories of issues that you're likely to encounter. This helps you track issues and assign the right people to resolve them. You could have broad descriptions like these:

    • Technical – Relating to a technological problem in the project.

    • Business process – Relating to the project's design.

    • Change management – Relating to business, customer, or environmental changes.

    • Resource – Relating to equipment, material, or people problems.

    • Third party – Relating to issues with vendors, suppliers, or another outside party.

  • Raised by – Record who discovered the issue.

  • Date raised – Indicate when the issue was identified.

  • Description  / background – Provide details about what happened, and the potential impact. If the issue remains unresolved, identify which parts of the project will be affected.

  • Priority – Assign a priority rating to the issue. Here's an example:

    • High priority – A critical issue that will have a high impact on project success, and has the potential to stop the project completely.

    • Medium priority – An issue that will have a noticeable impact, but won't stop the project from proceeding.

    • Low priority – An issue that doesn't affect activities on the critical path, and probably won't have much impact if it's resolved at some point.

  • Assigned to – Determine who is responsible for resolving the issue. This person may or may not actually implement a solution. However, he or she is responsible for tracking it, and ensuring that it's dealt with according to its priority.

  • Target resolution date – Determine the deadline for resolving the issue.

Without a defined process, you are likely to ignore issues, or not take them seriously enough – until it's too late to deal with them successfully.

Problems with staff or suppliers, technical failures, material shortages, etc – these might all have a negative impact on your project. If the issue goes unresolved, you risk creating unnecessary conflicts, delays, or even failure to produce your deliverable.


You need an issue management process in place before you start your project – to make sure that you stay on schedule, on budget, and meet your other project objectives. Issue Management is the process of identifying and resolving issues. Your process should include:


  • Levels of authority for making decisions and / or changes

  • Escalation process for taking issues to the next level of authority

  • Guidelines for assignment of issues to other people

  • When and how status of issues will be updated

  • Filing of resolved issues

Issues are paid for from the Management Reserve fund, usually not accessible to the Project Manager.

(Risks are paid for from the Contingency fund, which normally is available to the Project Manager).

    When the issue is a

  Human Relations conflict

    remember the skill of

     Conflict Management

            found here .

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