The RAID Log: Strategic and Tactical
What's the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word RAID? Probably the police breaking down someones door with a battering ram? Personally, it reminds me of the 80s song by Lakeside.
Like the Strategic Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team, the RAID log is your weapon or tool. It's strategic, in that, decisions have been made and you have done risk planning for multiple scenarios that have happened on previous efforts. It's tactical, in the sense that actions taken can deescalate situations that might cause the project to be delayed, reduce costs, or improve quality.
Whether this a traditional project or an agile project, I maintain a RAID log. The RAID log is also great tool for messaging.
Risks | Action Items | Issues | Decisions
Risks should be captured as early as possible to develop a Risk Strategy. Risk Strategy? Most people create a Risk Log with with a column for Mitigation. However, Mitigation is only one of multiple ways to deal with Risks. Risks are something that could happen. One of the things that is important to me when adding items to the Risk Log is having point system. For example, if something is highly likely to occur, I'll give it a 3. If the impact is fairly low, then I'll give it a 1. Those numbers multiplied gives it an overall score of 3. This scoring system helps prioritize which risks that I work on first. In addition, the scoring system helps determine which risks will be reported on in the project status.
Key Components: Priority, Likelihood, Impact, Risk Strategy, Steering Indicator
The Current Situation
Issues are happening now. You know those little fires that PMs are always talking about.
Issues should be treated as a report card for the project. If there are several Issues reported during project execution, this is probably an indicator that there was not enough planning, something wasn't communicated well and/or the right stakeholders were not involved.
Key Components: Clear Problem Identified, Due Date, Key Contacts, Steering Indicator
Action Items result from Risks and Issues. Risks may have action items to help mitigate the risk. Action items may resolve an Issue or change the Issues into Risk if not completed at a given time. The true test of team is when one person gets several action items and team members volunteer to help.
Key Components: Owner and Due Date
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
I don't know where lack of decisions lands on the list of biggest complaints of a project team? However, some key decisions are not captured once they are made. For example, I joined a rescue effort where key decisions were made about the architecture of the system at a Director level and above. Unfortunately, this information never made it to the project team. So, we had to level set the team as to why we used certain endpoints. Any Key Decisions should be captured in the RAID log.
Key Components: Method to ensure Change Control Board is notified
How does the RAID log help with messaging?
On a traditional project effort, review the RAID log as part of your status meetings. Ideally, this occurs within days of when you report the status (Status-2d). This allows you time to validate the current status and take action as needed. Your Project Leadership Team meeting should occur the morning of your status or the previous day late day [Status-1d]. You want to report on the most current information.
On agile efforts, introduce Action items or Issues in the daily standup. For Risks, use the Sprint Planning sessions to make sure that the team is working on the right things.
Creating a cadence for your meeting helps to avoid constant status check-ins with the team and enables them to get more accomplished. The RAID log helps you report accurately, talk about how you are addressing risks, identify how issues are impacting your project, and what actions are being taken to reduce risk and address issues.
Overall, the RAID Log is just a good communication tool.