November 16, 2022

Show Me Your RAID Log with Special Guest Elizabeth Harrin

Show Me Your RAID Log with Special Guest Elizabeth Harrin


Welcome to an episode of Show Me your RAID Log, where we talk with industry leaders about how they use RAID logs and similar tools to help project managers succeed.





Show Me Your RAID Log Show Introduction 


[Kim Essendrup] “Welcome to another episode of Show Me Your RAID Log where we talk with industry leaders about how they use RAID logs and similar tools to help project managers succeed.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “I’m Kim Essendrup, Co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour Podcast and one of the founders of RAID log com. Now, I’ve been using RAID logs for years to save broken projects and to keep my own projects from getting too broken. And I’m really excited to see how other leaders use theirs.” 


With Special Guest Elizabeth Harrin 


[Kim Essendrup] “With me today to talk about RAID logs is Elizabeth Herron. Elizabeth provides education and mentorship to project managers in person and online to individuals and companies. She’s a fellow of the Association of Project Management. Elizabeth has over 20 years of project management experience leading IT and business change projects across financial services and healthcare.”

[Kim Essendrup] “Hi Elizabeth, Welcome.”  

Elizabeth Harrin FAPM, Experienced Project Manager – Author, Trainer, Mentor

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Hello, thank you so much for having me on the show and for making me sound really old. I feel like I’ve been around project management for so long now.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Well–well, it sounds. Like you’ve got a lot of experience, though. What kind of things are you doing right now in the project management world?” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Well, at the moment I’m working in healthcare. I am working on large capital investment projects. So, it’s really interesting to do something slightly different from technology because while a lot of big machines plug into the wall and need to be connected to IT, the process is quite different, the impact when you’re installing something that you can physically see, it is really good and really powerful.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So I’m enjoying it. It’s great to be delivering all kinds of different variety of projects and seeing a different part of the healthcare world.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Those sound-like fun projects.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Yes, yeah, it’s–it’s good. I do like healthcare because I’m sure some of your listeners will be in that field as well. But one of the clear benefits, I suppose for me as a project professional, is that I can actually see the difference that I’m making. And I know prior to healthcare I worked in insurance for a while. And that’s an industry where you sell a product, and you make money hoping that no one ever uses it. Whereas in healthcare, well, we don’t want people to be ill.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “As a project manager, if I’m installing computers into an operating room, or putting in a new X-ray machine, or supporting hospitals to have new equipment of some kind. It’s–it’s really clear to see the link between what we deliver as project managers, and the change in the benefits that we’re delivering.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So healthcare, if you are listening to this thinking about what industry you would want to work in, healthcare technology is amazing and really rewarding.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “And it’s very dynamic. There’s always something going on.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “There, there’s always something. Yep. Regulation changes and compliance requirements and, and all the other things. That, that go alongside that.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “As the father of two kids soon to be three that work in the healthcare field, I thank you very much for your contributions there that, I’m sure, it really helps them out. 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I’m sure I don’t do hardly anything in comparison to our frontline workers, but it’s nice to play a small part.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Well, can I ask you a few questions about one of my favorite PM tools, RAID logs, and how you use them. 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Of course, of course, that’s why I’m here; ask away. I’ve been looking forward to this cause RAID logs are a subject that, well, I use it every day. So, you go ahead.”  


How did you first learn about RAID Logs? 


[Kim Essendrup] “Well, let’s start at the beginning then. Can you tell us about how you first learned about RAID logs? 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “That’s a really interesting question, because I don’t really remember a time as a project manager that I didn’t have one, and so it must have been quite early on in my career.“ 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “When I was doing my first project management course, for example, which was an in-house course put on by my employer at the time. And I think it must have been covered in that training material because it’s just become an accepted part of how I run projects”  

[Elizabeth Harrin] And how the people around me run projects as well. So even if, uhm, they haven’t particularly used them in the past. After having worked with me, I think they—they see the benefit because it’s such a useful tool. 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I don’t know how people manage without. So, I think I’ve probably found it as a tool quite early on in my career, and then just stuck with it because it works. 

[Kim Essendrup] “You know, I feel–I feel I have the same background, and I think a lot of more senior project managers have the same, the same background in that. Well, I don’t remember when I learned about it, but it feels like it’s always been there, and it’s always been an integral part of what we do. 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Exactly, and maybe I picked it up from a more experienced colleague. Or maybe it was a dedicated part of this course, and I’m a Prince two practitioner, well I took the exam a while ago. I imagine it’s probably expired by now, but the word RAID is not a Prince two term, you don’t get examined on that it.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “It’s–it’s something that looks very much fundamental. So, tracking and monitoring all of the things that we do on projects, and it just makes sense to have them all in the same place. So, RAID for me is more than just those four things that RAID stands for, but Uhm, it’s just a sensible, central location for all of the stuff I need to know about my project so I can manage and control it bettere. 


Can You Tell Us About a Time When Using a RAID Log Saved a Project? Or Kept You from Having to Save a Project? 


[Kim Essendrup] “Well, now, can you share–share with us a time that using a RAID log helped you save a project, or kept you from having to save and rescue a project?” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I think because it’s such a fundamental tool, listing all out the–the actions. I would say the action tracker. The action log is probably the most likely to keep me out of trouble, section of the RAID log.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Simply because it keeps that archive of–of who did what, when, who did, when did I last speak to somebody. And when I start to feel overwhelmed on a project, or when there’s a lot going on, I can come back to that and say, OK start at the top, work down the list. What do I need to do? How do I need to chase these people up? How can I move these actions forward? And you can see things that have been on there for months, and all of the debate and discussion that’s going on around it, which tells you that you need to get on and do something about it.” {laughter}

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So I would say, I can’t remember a time where there’s been a huge disaster and the RAID Log has saved me in that respect. But just generally keeping me on track. Being able to see how we got to this point. Avoiding rework because we can look back and–and say, well we did this we made this decision, Why—why are we making it again? Why have we forgotten that we’ve taken this course of action, for this reason.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “It’s always fine to change your mind, and maybe we do need to revisit, but let’s just remind ourselves of why we chose that route in the first place before we remake the decision. Because do we have any new information? What’s–what’s change that would—and, that has happened before, where my project sponsor has–Uhm, has changed his mind about something and we documented the decision that he had made, previously.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So, I was able to put back to him in writing. That’s fine, we can totally do that, but just as a reminder, six weeks ago, your steer on this activity was–whatever, because of whatever reason–and if that’s changed, that’s fine, but just want to clarify it. And in that instance, he did actually come back and say, Oh no, let’s stick with the original plan.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So, you know there are small things, but they’re all about control, and performance management and governance and making sure that—that you’re on track so you don’t get into any of the bigger problems.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “So true, so true, and it’s as hard as it is for project managers to task switch between project to project if you’re managing multiples. It’s–gotta be even harder for our sponsors, stakeholders and other team members. I mean, this is our job. This is, you know, something different. For–for these stakeholders. And so, I can see how that really helps keep, not just ourselves, but our stakeholders and sponsors on track, and helps us with our memory.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Well, that’s part of our role, isn’t it? To manage up and to help people make the best decisions to help people be smart about how they work.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “And if we’ve got those records, that–then they don’t have to have it in their head because they can rely on us. And that action log, the risk log, the issue log, decisions, dependencies, changes, contact lists, whatever you want to check-in there. Is—it’s kind of the institutional memory of the project and it so—solves that problem of them having to remember everything because it’s documented. So, it’s–it is just a useful, a really useful resource, I think it’s for feeling in control and importantly evidencing to other people that you actually are in control” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Very–very true, very true.”  


What Has Been Your Biggest Pain Point When Using RAID Logs? 


[Kim Essendrup] “Now when using RAID logs, have you had any specific pain points that you—that you’ve struggled with—with the typical spreadsheet-based RAID logs?” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Yes, I tend to use a spread—spreadsheet because I like it. But on a project. Well, we just ended up with hundreds and hundreds of actions, and because it went on for a very long time and one of the challenges that we had was I needed to get updates from the team, and I didn’t want them to be messing with my spreadsheet because I needed to know what the updates were.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So instead of saying to everybody, have access to this and then add on whatever updates you want. And then I’d have to read it and try to remember what’s new, what’s not new. They’d either have to update it in a different color, or I’d just send them an extract of just their tasks and then they’d update that, and I’d copy and paste it in.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So that sort of version control has always been a bit of a challenge with spreadsheet system, especially when there’s a lot going on. There’s team members who you trust, implicitly to do their own update. You don’t have to nag them for it or anything. But actually, if they update it and you don’t know and then someone asks you a question, you’re working off old information.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So just to try and keep all of that aligned and keep the version control. And the way I found around that is just to be, really, Uhm, controlled. {laughter} Nobody messes with my RAID log. Nobody puts anything in it unless I know about it. I’m not sure that’s the best way to work, but it’s—it’s meant that, we’ve all got the right level of visibility for the roles we do.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “I find that’s common when most project managers that—the RAID log is sacred. It’s—it’s their—their tools so they um.” {fade out}  

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Absolutely Yep. Have to do it. Don’t even put filters on it please. {laughter} Something like this will sit out the way I want.” 


What is Your Favorite Tip or Trick for Using a RAID Log? 


[Kim Essendrup] “Now, do you have a favorite tip or trick when using your RAID logs that you can share?” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I think one of the things that I found really useful, that I don’t see everybody do by default. But it’s worth looking at if it’s relevant. Is to add an extra column into a spreadsheet, or to start thinking about how you could do that in the tools that you use, for the trigger date or risk proximity.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So, if you’re looking at risks. We typically look at how likely is this going to be? And, what—and what damage would it do to our project if it happened? But one of the other fields, that’s quite useful with risk management, is to think about proximity. Which is, how, if this happens, how soon is it going to hit us? Because even a small risk that’s going to land next week, probably takes more of your focus than a big risk that’s not going to hit you for two years because you’ve got time for that.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “So, to think about that distance, how—how much slack time have we got before we have to care about this, can be really useful for prioritizing.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Especially on a—on a bigger program or a bigger piece of work. Where you’ve got lots of risks and perhaps multiple work streams. So, there’s a—there’s a lot to focus on. Risk management, it’s such a huge drain on people’s time, if I’m honest.  

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I mean, we do it because we have to. Because it’s a sensible thing to do, but I’ve never met anybody who loves It really. {laughter} So, to make sure that we’re focusing our energies on the things that are going to make the most difference is really helpful, I think.  

[Kim Essendrup] “I love that tip because, Uhm, a tool like a RAID log is very much about being operationally minded and what’s going on right now. What do I have to worry about now? What I have to worry about next? What’s this week’s priority? What’s next week’s priorities? And being—and having, Ugh, the ability to pull in risks into that planning horizon, that—that’s very, very useful.  

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Hmm. I don’t do it on every project, but when the projects where it makes sense to, it’s—it’s useful. So anyway, that was my tip. 

[Kim Essendrop] {laughter} “Thank you.” 


Favorite RAID Log Extension Beyond Risk, Action, Issues, and Decisions?


[Kim Essendrup] “I’m going to ask you one more bonus question here. On your RAID logs we talk about risks, actions, issues and decisions. What’s your favorite extension beyond those four tabs?” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Change, I like a load of—of what changes have we approved. Or more to the point, what changes have we not yet approved that are in the pipeline to change or be approved.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Oh, it’s very good.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “Because then it becomes almost an agenda item on our next team meeting, of what—what’s still in the pipeline that we have to discuss. Do we want to do it? How are we going to get the decision about what to do?  

[Elizabeth Harrin] “And then we’ve also got that record in a similar place to everything else. If we say yes, we’re going to do it, then that brings us scope issues potentially, or risks we have to add on, more actions to do, we have to update then schedule, and then at least we’ve got some—Uhm, some record in one place of where that’s of—what we’ve discussed with changes.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “That’s a great addition, thank you.” 


Find Out More About Elizabeth Harrin 


[Kim Essendrup] “Well Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining us and sharing some of your project management experience. If our audience wants to find out more about what you’re up to, how can they best do that? 

Elizabeth Harrin Author of Managing Multiple Projects

[Elizabeth Harrin] “I would say. You can find me online at, which is my project management website, my blog. Or you can just find me on LinkedIn. I’m generally online every day. {laughter} And so—and so I will—I will, I’ll pick up messages. We also have a Facebook group, Project Management Cafe. I hang out in there as well, and—and it would be lovely to connect with some of your listeners.  

[Kim Essendrup] “Outstanding, I highly recommend that they do so too. So, thank you so much for joining us and Showing Us Your RAID Log.” 

[Elizabeth Harrin] “You’re very welcome. Thanks for having me on the show.” 

[Kim Essendrup] “Alright, cheers.” 

For our audience. If you’d like to step-up your project management game, you can check out our new RAID log application at We’re bringing the tried-and-true RAID log into the 21st century with the only platform dedicated to giving project managers the tools that they need to succeed in project delivery, starting with the RAID log. Come check it out at 


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