As a project manager, are you familiar with a RAID log and the best way to use it concerning your project sponsors, stakeholders, or the leadership team? The key to using a RAID log is to use your RAID as a tool to help you engage, not as the engagement itself, and to manage project plans and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
- (Don’t) Read My RAID Log, Please!
- Manage Up: Project Reviews with Managers and Executive Sponsors
- Manage Down: Project Reviews for my Project Managers
- Additional RAID Log Best Practices
- See Across the RAIDs of my Team / Portfolio / Program
(Don’t) Read My RAID Log, Please!
Like me, many of you are experienced project managers and RAID log users who use this tactical management tool to keep on top of our project’s risks, actions, issues, and decisions. We use our RAID log to manage those project plans and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
But all that hard work can be for nothing if you cannot get your leadership team to pay attention to RAID items where you need their help.
Let’s be real – even if you can get them to open your email, are they really going to scroll through your list of hundreds of Risks and Issues? Of course not.
So, how do you get Senior Management to review and act on the RAID log items which desperately need their attention?
The key to using a RAID log to engage with your leadership is that you should use your RAID as a tool to help you engage, not as the engagement itself. Don’t email your RAID log to your management team and expect anyone to take the time to read through it and interpret it.
Instead, prepare by flagging the items that are of interest to your audience or where you need them to take action, then use that as an agenda for a meeting with your team. And when you review RAID items with your leaders, make sure you approach it as a dialogue rather than simply reading from your RAID log.
Mentor’s Advice that Changed Everything!
My colleague and mentor exclusively used a RAID tool to manage extensive merger and acquisition (M&A) projects. She faces many challenges like unclear lines of authority and managers hesitant to make decisions or commitments. When they did, they liked to forget they made those commitments, creating a general sense of uncertainty among the decision-makers.
“Stakeholders in these situations gravitate to anything that helps create this structure, and I found that in my projects, the RAID log tool provides such a structure to my M&A projects. Yes, my RAID log guides my stakeholder meetings, and it is my meeting notes.” M.S.
Because, if you think of it, anything important for tracking in meeting minutes is RAID items – Risks, Actions, Issues, Decisions. Does anything else in our meeting minutes really help the team or us?
Let’s look further into RAID log Best Practices to Manage Up and Manage Down across all types of stakeholder communication lines.
Project Reviews with Managers & Executive Sponsors
An essential job of a project manager is stakeholder management, or one would say “managing up.” You are responsible for communicating with your sponsors and management stakeholders and engaging them in active support and decision-making for your project. When you sit with your management team – direct managers or executive sponsors – you need to do a couple of things:
- Make very efficient use of the limited time that you have with them.
- Be prepared for questions they may have for you.
- Put them to work.
Your management team won’t be interested in your tactical actions (unless their name is on them), but they should be interested in open Issues, Decisions, and critical Risks. Focus on decisions they need to make or the decisions they need to help get made by others.
Sponsors with something at stake in your project management plan want to feel like they are involved and helping to move the project ahead. If you don’t give them something constructive to do, they may get uncomfortably involved in your project and try to add their own “help.” A RAID log is perfect for this.
Project Reviews for my Project Managers
Suppose you manage project managers or are a project sponsor yourself and want to actively promote the project and be engaged in your project’s activities. In that case, a regularly scheduled RAID log review is a great way to monitor resources and support PMs without micromanaging.
These reviews can help set expectations and provide a coaching opportunity. Review schedules should consist of a recurring 1:1 meeting with your project lead on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the scale and risk level to the project scope.`
The agenda is to simply review the RAID log. Your review can either be a high-level review and focus only on the highest priority items or drill down into the details, depending on how granular you want to get.
As your PMs present their RAID log, check-in and give feedback on their approach, level of detail, and how they manage RAID items through to completion. It’s the perfect tool for a positive comprehensive review and for providing constructive feedback.
Additional RAID Log Best Practices
To keep in mind when managing up and down across your team:
- Keep ownership. No matter how big the project, the PM should own their RAID. Owning the RAID log keeps your head in the game.
- Keep it current. Take it seriously if you want others to take it seriously. The RAID log loses value if you don’t keep it current. And if you aren’t keeping current on your project’s risks, action items, issues, and decisions – what are you doing?
- Make it accessible. Keeping in mind the sensitivity of the data in our RAID logs, we should strive to keep our RAID logs as accessible as possible for those who should have access.
See Across the RAIDs of my Team / Portfolio / Program
Although managing a RAID in a spreadsheet is quick, portable, and easy, it becomes problematic when your team must manage multiple RAID log templates. The solution is to have each PM work their RAID log or have one master RAID log everyone shares if you have a small number of workstreams.
At some point in growth, it will become too cumbersome to aggregate data from your spreadsheet-based RAID logs and too chaotic to have everyone in the same RAID log. Investing in a dedicated software product to do the job would make sense – a Project and Portfolio Management system.
The RAID Log Solution You Have Been Wanting
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