What is a RAID log for?
A RAID log is a simple but powerful tool for managing the delivery of work. The origins of RAID logs are lost to the dust of time; they were old-school 20+ years ago when I first learned about them. In my PM fantasies, I like to imagine Imhotep using a RAID log written in hieroglyphics when building pyramids in ancient Egypt. Whatever their origins, RAID logs continue to be incredibly useful not just because of their simplicity, but also because of their versatility.
RAID is a Tracking Tool
A RAID log is a simple tool used to track operational activities related to your project; specifically, Risks, Action items, Issues and Decisions. It is not the plan for the project, but instead it is everything you need to manage that plan to keep it on track. RAID logs were originally used by Project Managers but as we will see, they can offer value to other professionals as well.
RAID is a Methodology
Learning to use a RAID log will give you a method for being “always on” and up to date with your plans. It is a way of running your projects which can keep you focused on what is important and keep things moving, especially when you have multiple projects going on at once.
RAID is a Communication Tool
A RAID log helps you more clearly and efficiently communicate with your stakeholders and team members. As we will show later, the more challenging the environment, the more valuable your RAID log will become.
RAID is power in simplicity
Even though I will share some clever ways you can extend your RAID log, I encourage you to keep it as simple as possible. That’s the power of the RAID log. The more chaotic the environment is, the more important it is to keep your RAID log a safe harbor of clarity and simplicity. Your RAID log should be light, easy to use, easy to understand and accessible. If you lose any of these characteristics, your RAID starts losing some value. You will be tempted to make it more complex, but don’t. Keep it simple, keep it up to date and keep it accessible.
Sidebar: The more chaotic the environment is, the more important it is to keep your RAID log a safe harbor of clarity and simplicity.
But a RAID is not…
A RAID log is not a replacement for good planning and sound project management, although it can help you to be better at both of those things.
A RAID log is primarily an operational tool, not a planning tool. It is a way to help you implement your plan and execute your project, but is typically not the plan itself. As the title of this book says, RAID is something you use to run your projects, or potentially to rescue projects that are in trouble. The actual detailed project plans or activity trackers are usually better served in a purpose-built scheduling or task management tool, rather than your RAID log.
That said, I have seen some people turn their RAID log into a Project Management super-system with a detailed schedule, budget, resource plan, everything – basically a portable Project and Portfolio Management tool for one project. This can work just fine in the right circumstances – it’s quick and it’s easy. But the greatest power in a RAID log is its simplicity, which you start to lose the bigger and more complex your RAID log gets.