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Five Uses for a “Dead” Issue Log

I couldn’t surpass Simon Bond’s volume of suggestions, but Issue Logs can add value beyond a project’s completion!  Although you may be more likely to consider schedules, financial plans or even risk registers as useful post-project artefacts, here are a few reasons to consider doing more than just archiving those issue logs.

Improving operations: A good practice in project closeout is to transfer all open or on hold issues to the team that will be responsible for supporting the project deliverables in their operational state.  However, even the data related to closed project issues can help with resolving operational challenges – troubleshooting methods, workarounds that might have been used during the project for expediency purposes or key contacts are a few examples of such useful information.
As I wrote in the article, Quantifying Risk Management Benefits, by reviewing issue logs immediately after a project has completed, you can glean candidate threats to future projects.  You can also harvest quantitative impact data and gain insights into how effective specific issue management strategies were.

Helping to develop a Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS): An RBS can be a valuable input into risk identification activities, but to develop one that reflects the relative severity of different threat categories, past project issue logs can provide empirical evidence on issue frequency and impacts. 

Proactive identification of portfolio-wide threats: Analogous to the rationale used by security agencies use for sifting through and analyzing terrorist chatter to avert impending attacks, analyzing issues across projects can help to identify significant systemic threats.

Resource evaluation and development: While the normal artefacts in a project can provide data to help resource managers understand how their staff perform under normal conditions and expectations, issue logs can provide insights and supporting evidence into how the same resources deal with unexpected situations.  This information can help during performance evaluation time but can also be useful to identify which staff may be better suited to troubleshooting tasks.

Harvesting and distilling operational process assets requires effort, and such post-project activities may necessitate the services of a PMO or PM community of practice (as the project team will likely have moved on to their next project), however, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it”.

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