Let’s face it—nothing is perfect. Mistakes are made, processes are never fully optimized, and improvements can always be made. All of those issues – big and small, critical and unimportant – mean risk or opportunity for your organization.
How are you managing those issues? Do you have insight into the big picture?
Start with a consistent issue management process…
Having a consistent process in place to document and resolve issues throughout the company is a great first step. Provide guidance, so that all departments and all projects use the same format for tracking, remediating, and resolving issues. That process should include the following steps (although not always in this order):
- Document an issue as soon as it is identified in a central location.
Emails are great, but having a standard location to enter an issue as soon as it is discovered is the key to full transparency.
- Assign the issue to the appropriate contact (or committee).
Your process may have a central point of contact that reviews and assigns issues – or this may be built into the issue reporting process. In either case, assignment to an individual or a specific committee is critical. Issues will never be resolved if no one is accountable for them. (That person may ultimately delegate or reassign the issue later, but assignment brings accountability.)
- Rate the risk or opportunity that the issue poses.
Issues are not always about risk – sometimes an issue is simply the recognition that there’s an opportunity that could be addressed. To determine the priority of addressing issues, each should be rated to understand the risk posed or the opportunity available.
- Determine if and how the issue will be resolved, and what the timeline should be.
Will the issue be addressed? Low risk/low opportunity issues may simply be put on hold or removed from the list, accepted as imperfections in the daily business. If the issue is to be addressed, document a plan and set a timeline. The less urgent the issue and the farther out the timeline, the more general or vague the plan may be. A “next step” should always be defined, even if that’s a plan to create a plan.
- Assign the remediation plan to the right individuals.
For smaller organizations, it’s more likely that the original issue owner is also going to be the individual responsible for the remediation. However, for large companies, issues may be owned by a division or department leader, while the remediation of the issue falls to someone on the front line of the organization.
- Regularly review the open issues and ensure that updates are documented.
Ensure that open issues are reviewed regularly, and that progress is being made and documented. If issues and remediation plans are never updated, the process will stop being effective. If progress on an issue has stalled out, a regular review will highlight that challenge and allow it to be addressed.
- As remediation is completed, audit the process to ensure that the issue is resolved.
The remediation plan may be marked complete, but has it really been fully implemented? Was the remediation plan effective in addressing the issue? Is there something more that must be done?
…and make sure you have technology in place to support it!
Consider the insight gained if you had a web application that allowed employees to report issues, issue owners to build remediation plans, and management teams to review the status of all issues across the company.
policyIQ is that application.
From a simple reporting mechanism to dashboards to track progress, policyIQ offers a technology platform that supports the issue management process.
Want to learn how? Join us on October 22nd for a policyIQ training event, where we’ll focus on this issue management process – and how you can support all of the steps within the policyIQ application.
If you want to talk to us before October, we’re happy to connect with you to talk about issue management! Contact us today.