Problems Management in Project Management: – Completing a project without problems is not easy. The road to success is fraught with various obstacles and unforeseen. It is important to have the right tools to deal with the various problems you may encounter.
What is a problem? This is any type of event that could hinder the accomplishment of a task. It is essential to quickly identify the risks and address the issues that arise during your project. So you will avoid that they turn into real problems that could prevent your goals from reaching.
To help you, there are a large number of tools and methods on which to base them and which are adapted to each problem.
Different Steps in Problems Management
Here are the different steps in problems management and tools associated with them.
- Define the Problem
Take the time to clearly define the problem you are facing. Do not rush to find a solution because if the problem is not specifically identified, it may not be suitable.
For example, if your team members do not communicate with each other, ask yourself if it is because they do not know each other or because they do not understand each other’s role and the value of working together. A team building session will solve the first problem, whereas it will be useless to solve the second problem.
Take a step back and analyze the problem to find the appropriate solution.
There are several methods to help you define the problem, including the QQOQCP method. It allows to describe a situation by answering the questions What, Who, Where, When, How, Why (How). This method allows you to gather accurate information about the problem.
- Identify the Causes
Determining the causes of the problem is a key step. It is divided into two parts:
- Research: Make a complete list of all possible causes of the problem.
- Selection: analyze the causes and select those on which you can act.
Attention, at first glance, the origin of the problem may seem obvious. However, on closer inspection, the cause that has the greatest impact is not necessarily the one that is believed. Moreover, the problem does not necessarily have a single origin, but may be the result of several causes.
To find the cause (s) of the problem you are facing, you can use:
- The 5 P (or 5 why) method: the purpose of this tool is to ask the question “why” 5 times in a row until we find the initial cause of the problem encountered.
- The Ishikawa Diagram: This is an effective tool for identifying the causes of a problem. Called a cause / effect diagram or a fishbone diagram (because of its shape), this visual tool aims to list the causes leading to an effect (a situation), to classify them and to prioritize them. It is used as a team.
The causes are organized into categories according to 5M:
- Material: Materials and materials required and used for the project.
- Hardware: all equipment, machinery, hardware, software and technologies.
- Method: the procedure, the different techniques and procedures.
- Workforce: This involves all staff working on the project.
- Environment: the context, the environment and the positioning of the project.
- Find a Solution
In the same way as for the previous stage, this phase is divided into two: research and selection. Look for all possible solutions, but select only those that are really relevant and achievable.
When choosing the solution to your problem, you need to consider several criteria:
- The ease and speed of implementation,
- The cost,
- The skills to be mobilized,
- The risks involved.
In the end, the solution that seems to be the most effective will not necessarily be the one you will retain because it can be too expensive or difficult to deploy. Instead, you will opt for an easier and quicker solution, even if it has less impact on the problem. Be aware that it is possible to test the solution before definitively adopting it. This helps to verify if your decision is relevant.
Brainstorming, decision matrix and tree diagram (or decision tree) are three practical tools that assist you in choosing a suitable solution.
The brainstorming (or brainstorming in French) is a creative technique for gathering ideas group. It is often used to find new ideas or to seek solutions. The aim is to emit spontaneously and without restraint all ideas possible and imaginable in order to find ways of solving the problem.
- Launch the Actions
Once you have chosen the solution to implement, it is time to take action. Be organized and prepared, and set goals to ensure that everything goes smoothly. To do this, put in place an action plan. This is a guide to achieving the goals set step by step. The action plan defines a framework, organizes, plans and implements all the operational actions in order to solve the problem encountered. Also be prepared to meet with demonstrations of resistance to the changes you are putting in place.
Several tools help you to plan the actions to be implemented:
- The action plan, called PDCA (Plan Do Check Act): the idea is to plan the actions needed to implement the solution, to develop these actions, to control their effectiveness and finally to validate their implementation final.
- The Gantt chart, an indispensable planning tool in project management
- Monitor Results
Lastly, it is essential to follow the actions launched precisely and to adjust them if necessary. The results obtained must be evaluated, measured and compared with the starting situation. Also evaluate any unintended effects. You have to make sure of two things:
- Whereas the implementation of the measures is carried out without hindrance and achieves the objectives set;
- That the chosen solution is effective in solving the problem
To follow the results, use the statement sheet or the dashboard. The survey sheet is a basic tool in project management. It makes it possible to collect the data methodically and to measure the effectiveness of the actions implemented. The dashboard allows you to follow the objectives set and what is achieved precisely and effectively.
When faced with a problem, it is important to deal with the immediate effects, and then to determine the main causes. An analysis of these will allow you to define an effective and definitive solution, and thus to prevent the problem from recurring.