This is an answer to a question submitted to the "Ask me anything (AMA)" program. This AMA channel is designed to support you get clarity to business/tech questions you may have. Periodically, I select a particular response that we feel can benefit the broader community.
Escalating challenges involves raising awareness of the context of a situation so that people with more knowledge, resources or decision-making remit can take action to resolve a challenging problem.
There are various situations you may want to escalate problems:
Proper governance of a risk-management process lets you help leadership be aware of issues and risks that can impact the overall success of a piece of work. There are various factors that you may want to escalate across:
- Scope clarity or introductions of new unplanned work
- Unclarity, unknowns and detected assumptions that may put the project at risk
- Budget - are you on track, behind, and by what %. E.g. we are 40% through the budget but only delivered 20% of the work.
- Legal - are there any legal constraints or situations that may cause us to run into legal issues with a partner or customer. Using an example:
- You may have a piece of work that was agreed to be implemented, but you found it cannot be done without massively breaking the budget limit or delivering within the timeframes agreed.
- You experienced an unintended data leak.
- There is a condition of work that would see us break an agreement with a partner/customer.
- Technical - Are there any technical issues we are meeting/being limited to. Maybe some better tools or approaches may need to be considered to achieve success.
- Team stability & engagement - are we all humming as a team, or is there a particular conflict or resource loss that needs to be addressed?
- Customer responsiveness to areas that need their input - is customer responsive and delivering to obligations to enable us to deliver the work required.
- Customer satisfaction - we deliver the work, but the customer is unhappy with the overall progress/or has different expectations.
Issues may be escalated when:
- There is an issue in the project not meeting scope, the progress of technical deliver (as above).
- There is an issue that is causing team members to work significantly beyond what was expected (risking burnout and loss of personnel).
- You have already tried to manage or fix an issue but were unsuccessful.
- You have exhausted all reasonable options within your remit to address a problem (person, technical, budget, environment etc.).
The benefits of escalating are:
- Raising awareness of the situation to management.
- Enabling collaboration and cross-functional engagement to find a resolution.
- You may be allocated additional resources to address the issue.
- Highlighting areas where the business can do better and improve.
- Helps team stay the course and deliver the required work on time and within the scheduled timeframe and expectations.
- Improves relationships as it eliminates surprises.