Setting up the PRINCE2 Issue Register

The PRINCE2 Issue Register

First up, an issue is a communication from anyone with an interest in the project straight to the project manager at any time and about anything.

The subject of the issue may be to request that something be changed, or it may be to report a problem, perhaps it is to put forward a good idea.

Once the project manager receives an issue, they must make a decision about whether to deal with it formally or informally.

If the project manager’s decision is to deal with it informally, they simply record this in the Daily Log, which could be seen as a project diary.

However, if the issue needs to be managed more formally, then the project manager records the details on an Issue Report and then keeps track of the issue progress with entries in the Issue Register.

Defining a PRINCE2 project issue

A project issue is a communication from anyone in the project or anyone with an interest in the project, and it is sent directly to the project manager.

An issue can be sent to any time during the project, and it can be about anything, in particular it does not have to relate to change.

As soon as the issue is received it is logged in the Issue Register so that it can be tracked or, if the project manager makes a decision that the issue should be handled informally, it is entered into the Daily Log.

If It is entered into the Issue Register, the project manager first records the full detail of the issue on an Issue Report.

A word of caution here. There may be those within your organisation who want to try to influence everything, and the project manager may get bombarded with lots of issues. 

One way to resolve this and avoid overloading the project manager, is to agree that anyone outside the project raise such issues to the senior user and only then if it is agreed that It is entered as a formal issue.

The three PRINCE2 issue categories

PRINCE2 Has three categories of issue, even though you would want to process them in exactly the same way, and by this I mean record them and track their progress until they are resolved.

Let me deal with each issue category in turn:

A general issue or “Problem /concern/opportunity “

The use of the term “Problem/Concern” can mislead some folks because of the negative connotation the word concern gives as being bad. However, an issue can be about anything at all, not just bad situations. Issues can also be a good ideas or questions.

Request For Change (RFC)

An RFC is a type of project issue where someone wants a change to a product that is already under change control since it has been base lined. The term baseline Is a configuration management term and means that the product has been quality checked and signed off.

An RFC can be submitted for a specialist product that a team has built, or a management product, for example the Business Case that you use to help manage the project.

Once a product has been base lined, any change must go through the formal change control procedure. This is obvious really because there is no point in quality control staff carefully checking a product against its quality criteria and then signing it off if someone else makes a change a few minutes later.

After a product is quality checked and signed off, nobody is allowed to touch it except under change control. This is equally true even if someone has a good idea for improvement, and it may not take long to do. Making such a change may have impacts elsewhere in the project or its products.

Off Specification (Off-Spec)

The term off specification means that the product has failed to meet its quality criteria during testing and that you cannot easily correct the problem. An off specification could be raised even before the product is tested, in a situation where the team can see that the product is never going to meet its quality criteria.

You may be thinking that if a product does not meet its criteria, and it fails its test, then all you need to do is to take it away and work on it until it does meet the standard and passes the test. Although a reasonable thing to do, it may not always be that easy.

It may be that the correction is going to take some time and that time tolerance would be exceeded, or perhaps the resources are no longer available, or that obtaining resources is difficult, for example some components used within the product are no longer available.

So the usual case is that an off specification is for a product that has not met its quality criteria, but sometimes it can be because a product exceeds its specification, which may also cause a problem.