11 items project managers should include in a Problem Identification and Tracking document

A Problem Identification and Tracking document is an essential tool for every project. Learn what to include in the document to help your team manage and reduce project risks.

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Once projects are live, there are inevitably issues that crop up that need to be documented and resolved. The Problem Identification and Tracking document allows project managers and their teams to capture the details of each problem and efficiently deal with them. Specifically, Problem Identification and Tracking is focused on proactively recognizing, managing, and resolving risks.

SEE: 50 overused cliches to avoid in business (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Problem Identification and Tracking formats and elements can differ based on requirements, business goals, or policies, but generally, consist of the key elements below that could be applied across a wide variety of projects. The format of most of these documents is typically a spreadsheet with these elements listed in columns, and with issues appearing in each row.

  1. Issue number. There may be a few or several pages that list multiple issues, and as a result, each issue is assigned a unique number to help identify each one. Each issue is numbered sequentially. 
  2. Issue description. The description of each issue is included in this column. One example of an issue for a systems implementation might be an error message that users are receiving when clicking a button. The key here is to be concise but very specific.  
  3. Type of issue. This column lists the nature or type of issue. Some common types of issues are technical, resource, process, or external issues. This categorization also helps in assigning an owner to the problem and isolating areas where there might be a larger underlying problem.
  4. Identified by. This section provides the name of the person who identified the issue. This makes it easy to get additional information directly from the source and move toward a resolution much faster.
  5. Date identified. This column helps project teams see the time it is taking or has taken to resolve the issue.

  6. Assigned to. It’s important to know which person is working on resolving each issue. This makes it easy for other stakeholders to contact them when there are additional or similar occurrences of the same issues. It also ensures there is no duplication of efforts and conflicts.

  7. Estimated date of resolution. This is the target goal for resolving the identified problem, not a firm date. It will likely align with the priority of the issue. 

  8. Priority. Each problem should be assigned a priority, such as low, medium, or high. It can be based on factors like time sensitivity, impact, or cost. 

  9. Status. Once issues have been assigned to someone, each issue status is updated throughout the resolution process until the issue is fully and satisfactorily resolved. 

  10. Date resolved. Once the issue has been completely resolved, it is important to include the resolution date to refer back to if there are any future recurrences.

  11. Resolution description. A key piece of information is how the issue was resolved. This column should list what was done to resolve the issue, as well as the result.

Problem Identification and Tracking is a valuable tool in helping project teams keep control of issues and to help future projects through reduced rework, improved quality, and delivering successful projects much faster.

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