All projects should have some form of RAID Log. (Usually covering Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies). The default tool seems to be a spreadsheet, usually Microsoft Excel. Another common theme is that RAID logs are populated at the beginning of the project and the rate of maintenance drops as the project progresses.
Occasionally you will see RAID logs that also record actions and other project elements like configuration control. But for the purposes of this post let us assume the original 4 topics.
Are there better tools than Excel?
There are many tools that will allow you to create and manage a RAID log. But the most widely used is a simple spreadsheet. Most PPM Tools allow the integration of Issues and Risks into your project. The better PPM applications also cover dependencies and assumptions.
Excel is an easy answer and there are a wealth of templates that provide a basic setup. But the spreadsheet provides little extra value that a simple list in a notebook. It is rare to find templates that allow tracking of entries over time.
So, a spreadsheet is reasonable if you have no other tool, but could you do more?
SharePoint and some other collaboration tools allow lists with mixed content types that can allow some benefits over a flat spreadsheet.
Does your RAID log allow you to connect Risks and Issues?
A useful function of a good RAID log is the ability to link risks and issues and streamline the management overhead. This link can also lead to better use of time by sharing solutions and options between the project team and stakeholders.
Where you can also track progress and history of each item you can better follow how risk is managed.
Connection RAID items together can avoid duplication of effort.
How well does you RAID log allow dependency tracking?
Dependency tracking is often poorly recorded in projects. Even in projects that have a record of dependencies it does not allow connections to other projects and external bodies. Does your RAID log highlight events in your plan that depend on things outside your project?
In well-defined dependency tracking each project should be able to identify the projects that will affect your project. As well as the projects which will be affected by your project. A situation that is very difficult to implement across multiple independent spreadsheets.
Is the RAID log only giving information on your project?
Many solutions for RAID logs provide access to a single project. But a central log that allows maintenance by individual projects but sharing of information between projects has distinct advantages.
A project manager can gain by tapping into issues already being addressed by separate projects. The PMO can save time collating information across a portfolio because the data is in a common form and already held in one place.
Also, because there is a common method of managing the logs, team members can understand status on new projects more quickly.
What ways can you do it better
So with a collaboration tool like SharePoint you can start to make better use of the RAID log. Using it in a way that reduces the work to maintain it but gives better benefits of shared information and avoiding duplicated effort.
We will expand how you might use RAID logs in SharePoint in a future post and even suggest ways you might get more out of Excel to improve this process.