RAID Logs: 4 Common Mistakes Project Managers Make

All projects involve risks, actions, issues and dependencies, and project managers must deal with each of these items throughout the project life cycle. A RAID log is a simple document that project managers can use to control and monitor these items. Used correctly, a RAID log is a great tool that can help you make sure your project workflow is on track, but, like any other tool, this document only works when everyone follows the right process. Make the most of your project RAID log and avoid the four following mistakes other project managers often make.

Failure to use every part of the document

RAID logs don't work when users selectively pick out the bits they want to use. Risks, actions, issues and dependencies are all important, but when users are short on time, there's a natural tendency to skip straight to the actions. In fact, the RAID log is only truly effective when you use all four tabs because the four items all relate to each other.

For example, a risk describes something that could happen. In many cases, project managers must assign actions to help prevent or mitigate these risks. These actions can, in turn, present issues that create new dependencies. Without tracking these items separately, it's difficult to allow the project team to understand the full scope of the work you need them to undertake. In short, the RAID log becomes nothing more than a to-do list.

This can cause more problems when other users depend on the information you present in the RAID log. For example, if the log doesn't record the risk that a system change can present, a technical developer may press ahead with work that creates a lot of issues. The RAID log offers the project team a consolidated, up-to-date view of the crucial information they need. Without the RAID log, people can easily make bad decisions because they don't have the context they need.

Failure to update the information often enough

Project managers must make sure the RAID log content is accurate and complete. With incomplete information, project team members can waste time or duplicate effort that you should have recorded in the RAID document.

For example, your IT developer could become reliant on another part of the business to provide information he or she needs. If the developer doesn't update the RAID log to show that he or she has the information, other project team members could spend time collating the data. By the time everyone realises what has happened, the project could suffer unnecessary delays and expenses.

Failure to share and make accessible to everyone

The RAID log is a working, evolving document that is likely to change every day, so it's vital that every member of the project team can easily find and read the information. A RAID log that sits on the project manager's lap top can only ever really help the project manager.

Share the RAID log in a document library or on a network drive that everyone has access to. Send out regular updates via email, and remind people that they need to update the contents. Project managers must take steps to make sure all project team members understand how important the RAID log is.

Failure to integrate with PMO

The project (or portfolio) management office (PMO) will often rely on the RAID log for information and status updates. The PMO can use RAID logs from multiple projects to look for trends and to make sure that teams are not duplicating effort across separate activities. If you don't share the RAID log with the PMO, it's easy to miss opportunities for more efficient working.

The PMO will often upload the RAID log into project management software. Make sure you use the format your PMO asks for, or you can create a lot of unwanted effort fixing formatting issues that mess up the integration process.

The RAID log is one of the simplest and most useful tools available to project managers. Avoid wasting time and duplicating effort by making sure every member of your project team knows how to use this basic tool with your procurement software.