Task: Handle Exceptions and Problems
This task describes how to initiate appropriate corrective actions to problems and exceptions arising in the project.
Disciplines: Project Management
Main Description

A Status Assessment is created in the regularly scheduled Report Status task. Each Status Assessment identifies any problems or "things gone wrong". These can be project problems (e.g. deviations from plans, personnel), product problems (defects, requirements ambiguities, technology deficiencies), and realized risks. The Status Assessment also identifies any exceptions that occur. Exceptions can be thought of as issues that are barriers to project progress (e.g. availability of equipment, availability of key individuals to answer questions, difficulty getting a decision made). The Project Manager also maintains an Issues List, which is maintained more or less continuously and so is usually more current than the Status Assessment. These are the means of recording and tracking the issues that are the stimulus for this task.

The project manager invokes the Handle Exceptions and Problems task to address any problems or issues as they become known.

Evaluate Exceptions and Problems

The first step is to evaluate each of the problems/issues identified in the Status Assessment and Issues List. Most projects run a regular (often weekly) "Issues Meeting" for this purpose attended by the project manager, software architect and team leads. For each problem/issue you need to identify the cause, its impact on the project, and determine what your options are to resolve it. You should also determine if the possible solutions are within the authority of the project team to implement.

Determine Appropriate Corrective Actions

Next, for each problem/exception, select the preferred approach for resolution and determine the steps you need to take to implement it. If this approach will require a change to the Software Development Plan or the product's requirements or design, you will need to create a Change Request and implement the change following the project's Configuration Management Plan. If the approach does not change one of the baselined plans then the solution can be implemented by the project manager issuing a new Work Order. In either case, if the preferred solution is beyond the authority of the project team the issue should be escalated to the Project Review Authority for resolution. For example, if the Project Manager has determined that, without corrective action, the current iteration will not meet its planned end date, the preferred course of action is to re-scope the iteration (because iterations are timeboxed): if this impacts something that is deliverable to the customer at the end of the iteration, then it should not be done unilaterally by the project team.

Issue Change Requests and/or Work Orders

Once the corrective action for each problem or exception has been determined, and any necessary approvals, the project manager documents the work involved and raises Change Requests and/or Work Orders to initiate the work. The project manager is often able to retire issues from the Issues List at this point, because the closure will be tracked by other means.