Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets

Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets (Part 1)

Steve McBroom, CEO,  Traxidy

Steve McBroom, CEO, Traxidy

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A RAID log is the best place for Project Managers (PM) to organize, track and manage all the smaller, but key work items that support the project schedule and plan. Items like actions and dates, risks and issues that arise almost daily, during a project. A plan never executes perfectly. These are mostly unplanned work items that come up as you go about managing the entire project from the initial planning through execution and close. If you don’t manage these items properly, the project will not be managed properly which can lead to negative business consequences. 

A RAID log provides a way to track, manage and report on all of the Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions (RAID log) throughout the lifecycle of your project. (There is another view of the ‘A’ being for Assumptions and the ‘D’ for Dependencies, but that is not the topic of our blog post today.)

Get to the Point, in this Blog Post

What is a RAID log?

A RAID log works from the earliest days of knowing you are taking on the responsibility to plan and deliver a project, through the execution and closing of that project.

“All the issues, actions and tasks that come up in meetings and emails and conversations need to be managed to effectively support the work.”

The RAID log can be used by the PM, from the earliest days of planning and working with the Sponsor to best understand the objectives and goals of the project, through to closing. For many projects, a RAID log and specifically the Action log area, is often used on a daily basis to keep track of the ongoing multiple Actions and dates, for both the Project Manager and the other team members.

An Action log differs from the project schedule or Gantt chart. The Gantt includes all of the larger pieces of work, timing and ownership. The Action log is generally all about the smaller unplanned work items or issues that need to be managed in support of the project schedule or budget. The Action area, can also be used to track any planned task or action within the project plan.

The letters in our project RAID log acronym stand for:

R = Risks – All the items that may have an impact (positive or negative) on your project

A = Actions – Any task or action that needs to be managed to ensure the project stays on plan

I = Issues – Problems that are having a negative effect on the project plan and need action

D = Decisions – Key decisions and related information, in weighing options to complete the plan

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Vincent Van Gogh

As a Project Manager you know what we are talking about. Based on the approved schedule, you know what work is expected to be happening right now. However, during a hallway discussion or a regular project team update meeting, you learn about a new situation involving the current work or upcoming work – a situation that can take your project off-course. This information needs to be recorded, tracked and managed and ideally are all in one place with all the supporting details like What needs to be done and by whom and by when, to help you manage and control the project and keep it on schedule.

Not Just for Project Managers

Project Managers are not alone in this situation. Anyone leading work activities, and depending on others to get major pieces of work done on time, is aware of the need to manage all of the work too. All of the issues, actions and tasks that come up through meetings, emails and conversations, need to be managed to effectively support the work. Situations arise and something new and unexpected needs to be done by a team member and in a certain timeframe. As the person leading the work, you need to ensure that all of the specific actions and tasks get done, so your overall project is done on time. 

“Ideally, to be most effective, these work items are in a place where they are automatically tracked, monitored and even reported on.” 

The work items can typically be classified as project Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions (RAID log and Action log), and they need to be recorded somewhere so that the information can be used by you and the project team to ensure the project stays on track. Ideally, to be most effective, these work items are in a place where they are automatically tracked, monitored and even reported on.

Where you keep that information, could be a simple spreadsheet. However, spreadsheets don’t typically provide many of the benefits that you could use to save time and prioritize your work. There are multiple benefits provided by software and tools where the management of the work information is automated. Automation like visual notifications and messages of upcoming or past actions and due dates, or providing immediate communication of the details on new information or status updates to actions or risks from multiple collaborators, just to name a few.

Spreadsheets Have Potential

Spreadsheets provide a level of customization, analysis and color coding etc. but are mostly used for text lists and dates. The information remains static. Spreadsheets can be made to do all kinds of things if you have the expertise and the time to develop them. Doing it that way however, is more of a DIY (Do It Yourself) approach rather than using a software tool that is built for the purpose of managing specific types of project information and supporting anyone leading that work or project.

“You know that collecting and managing this work is important so you might as well ensure the information can help you be more effective.”

A better way is to use purpose-built, project work tracking software, to easily record the information as well as deliver more advanced and useful benefits, like real-time status or charts and message notifications of specific updates. You know that collecting and managing this work is important so you might as well ensure that the information can help you to be more effective.

In Part 2, we’ll talk about the key questions involved with the information that’s recorded and managed within a RAID log and Action log and show you examples of situations that call for the RAID log in the first place. Lastly we’ll explain the key benefits from using an automated RAID log rather than a spreadsheet.

Conclusion of Part 1

A project RAID log and Action log are critical tools to help any Project Manager effectively manage the smaller but critical and often daily actions supporting project work and the schedule. Multiple forms, lists or spreadsheets used as a RAID log to track key information involving your project, does not measure up when automated project work tracking software is available.

The ability to effectively manage all the smaller action items leads to the overall success of the project.

Learn more about Traxidy’s project work tracking software, with an easy to use project workspace and automated RAID log and Action log to help Project Managers and project teams increase efficiency and project success and see the Traxidy features here.

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Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets

Automated RAID logs & Action logs versus Spreadsheets (Part 1)

Project RAID logs and Action logs are critical tools to help any Project Manager effectively manage the smaller but critical and often daily Actions supporting project work and schedule. Multiple forms, lists or spreadsheets used as a RAID log to track key information involving your project, does not measure up when automated project work tracking software is available.

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