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Analyzing Complex Issues

Analyzing Complex Issues

When you have a complex problem before the team, take a few simple steps to analyze and resolve the issue in a logical way. Too often we get thrown off by problems that arise on projects and react too quickly. Taking the time to think through the issue, and why it has occurred, enables for a better solution and ensuring the problem doesn’t occur in the future.

Take these best practice steps to resolve the problem:

  1. Select a few members of the team (you don’t want too big a group!) to work on the analysis of the issue. Select those members with expertise for the particular issue or whose work is impacted by the issue.
  2. Set aside 3 – 4 hours for an issue resolution session. Have it out of the office if you must so that the team is not interrupted or distracted.
  3. Prior to the meeting pull together the following information and send to all participants requesting that they read the information received before the meeting
    1. Data on the issue to be resolved
    2. Any backup information/documentation
  4. At the meeting:
    1. Review the problem/issue (I like to have a simple problem statement to share) to be resolved – ensure that everyone understands the problem
    2. Discuss among the team how the problem was discovered and what is contributing to the problem  - be clear in statements (e.g., key members of the product development group do not see the value of the new technology rather than there is a problem within the product development group.)
      1. Can the cause of the issue be verified?
    3. Determine impact of the issue (e.g., on the project including timeline, budget, resources, stakeholders, deliverables.)
    4. Brainstorm actions that might be taken to resolve the issue – be creative (e.g., don’t worry about cost, resource needs, timing, etc.)
    5. Narrow down the possibilities to what is practical given the situation, timing, budget, etc.
    6. Narrow down further to 2 – 3 options and develop pros and cons for each option. Include resource needs, timing, budget, etc.
  5. Present findings to key stakeholders for review/approval to move forward.

Have a process and plan, such as the one delineated above, in place prior to having to work through issues that arise on the project. This avoids unnecessary delays on the project panic when an issue arises.