Galen Low is joined by Kim Essendrup—CEO and Co-Founder of RAIDLOG.com—to talk about RAID logs and how to integrate them into your modern project workflow.
- How PM Happy Hour podcast started [1:35]
- Kim had done a lot of coaching for project managers. He had the same tips over and over again and put it on his blog, but people didn’t want to read so much content. Someone recommended he do a podcast. He thought he could make some of the blog posts more interesting by turning them into podcasts.
- What is a RAID log [3:25]
- RAID stands for Risks, Actions, Issues, and Decisions. It’s a critical operational tool to help PMs run their projects.
- Some people say Assumptions/Dependencies instead of Actions/Decisions
- How a RAID log helps minimize or prevent catastrophes [6:58]
- The RAID log is the plan for how the project gets executed properly.
- Projects go wrong when you’re not minding the basics. And the RAID log helps with managing the basics.
When you’re not thinking about risk, you’re not planning for and getting decisions made and codified. That’s when the plan starts to fall apart.Kim Essendrup
- Stories from Kim’s experience where having an effective RAID log would have led to a different, more desirable project outcome [9:09]
- Kim had an experience with a client where the project went so badly that the client wanted to cancel the project and make them pay for the trouble.
- Kim and his team flew to the UK immediately to meet with them.
- There was frustration on both sides and it turned out there was no RAID log.
- Kim worked with his team and his client to fill out a RAID log.
- They were then able to address the issues together as opposed to focusing on each party’s shortcomings.
A RAID log is a great platform for getting alignment and making sure that everybody understands each other and to create a common source of problems for us to team up and work jointly on to resolve.Kim Essendrup
- How Kim ensures the RAID remains the source of truth [15:20]
- The PM has to live it.
- There’s a lot of tracking that the PM has to do.
- Of the failed projects Kim has had to go in and save, when he asks to see their RAID log, they don’t have one.
- Problems happen, things get pushed, so if you know the odds that problems are going to arise, then you need to use your superhero weapon (RAID log) to keep your project on track.
- Available tools to help project leaders build and manage a RAID log [18:29]
- They’ve implemented tools in over 60 organizations.
- They found that the tools out there don’t do a good job with RAID logs or at all.
- The tools are either for the business executive view or they’re on the opposite end – being really simple and user-driven. These two ends of the spectrum leave the project manager out.
- Kim and his team made a RAID log software – raidlog.com
- The interface is a plug and play spreadsheet with visual components that allows you to display it for business conversations with your stakeholders.
- Is a RAID log just for project managers? [26:58]
- It can be your product as a product owner working in an agile world.
- As the scrum master, the RAID log is not so much about the product but about the team – how do I support the team and help them succeed.
- From the project manager perspective – you need to manage up. What are the things you need to task people and have them work on?
- It’s terrible to have issues, but it’s even worse to have the same issues over and over again.
The RAID log is not so much about the product, but about the team.Kim Essendrup
Meet Our Guest
Kim Essendrup’s experience and knowledge come from over 20 years of managing critical project initiatives and delivery teams. He is the CEO and co-founder of RAIDLOG.com, a founder of project management consultancy, The Kolme Group, and co-host of the Project Management Happy Hour podcast. He also recently published his second book, “The Ultimate Guide to RAID Log.” Kim’s professional focus is on coaching and mentoring new leaders to successfully deliver challenging, high value initiatives. He not only enjoys the challenge of project delivery, but also the challenge of endurance sports, having completed several Ironman triathlons and ultra-marathons
Our vision is that we want to make the spreadsheet-based RAID log obsolete because we want to have a better solution that everyone can do.Kim Essendrup
Resources from this episode:
- Join DPM Membership
- Subscribe to the newsletter to get our latest articles and podcasts
- Connect with Kim on LinkedIn
- Check out RAIDLOG.com
- Check out PM Happy Hour Podcast
- Check out Kim’s book: The Ultimate Guide to RAID Log: The only tool you need to run any project
Related articles and podcasts:
Galen Low: You're manically searching your inbox again. This time you're looking for that email from that boss confirming a decision about your project. What was their name? What was the decision? Things are at a standstill until you find this, so you put on a pot of coffee and you keep digging. This is going to be a long night.
We're going to be exploring the practicalities of RAID logs and how to integrate them into your project workflow so that you can drive conversations with your stakeholders, easily communicate the status of your project, and never have to spend hours looking for that email from your boss ever again.
Hey folks, thanks for tuning in. My name is Galen Low with the Digital Project Manager. We are a community of digital professionals on a mission to help each other get skilled, get confident, and get connected so that we can amplify the value of project management in a digital world. If you wanna hear more about that, head on over to thedigitalprojectmanager.com.
Okay, today we are talking about RAID logs and the delicate art of tracking project risks, actions, issues and decisions to steer projects to success.
With me today is Kim Essendrup, former of the Kolme Group—an organization dead set on helping businesses build data-driven decision-making into the processes. But many of you probably know him as one of the two founding co-hosts of the very, very popular podcast, the PM Happy Hour.
Kim Essendrup: Hey, Galen! Thanks for having me.
Galen Low: Thanks for being on the show. Oh my gosh, this is a celebrity moment for me. PM Happy Hour is so much fun. Every episode I've listened to has just been a riot.
Anyways, I'm jealous of your podcast. I think it's great. For those of our listeners who don't know it, please go check it out. It's got a really good dynamic to it. I was wondering actually, if I could lead off with a total fanboy question, which is what made you start the PM Happy Hour podcast in the first place?
Kim Essendrup: First, I have to say, I'm actually a big fan of yours too, so I'm mutual fans. But yeah, so I did a lot of coaching of project managers. I found that I had the same coaching tips over and over, and I thought, you know what? I'll just put this in the blog and people will read the blog and it'll be great. And then I come to find that people really don't like to read 10,000 word blog posts on project management.
It's really not very fun. And I had another small kind of a startup business I was working on, and it was on a different topic and the consultant told me, you know what? You should do a podcast. And so I got myself through that whole process figuring out how to do it, getting a mic. And I did it for that other startup, which didn't really go anywhere except that it got me into the podcast.
Swing of things got me. I was able to figure it out. And I thought, you know what, maybe I could take some of those blog posts and make 'em actually interesting. And I thought, who would be the one person I could get on a podcast with me that could even make project management interesting.
And it was absolutely Kate. So I reached out to Kate and I said, Hey, do you wanna do this crazy thing? And Kate was all in. And so it's just been more and more fun ever since then.
Galen Low: I love it. It's a really good dynamic. I almost feel like I'm listening to morning radio, like really good morning radio. It's just like hilarious banter, but it's also about projects.
I'm like, yeah, this is my jam. This is my jam. Anyways, I'm a big fan. Big fan. So folks, if you haven't checked it out, PM Happy Hour or Project Management Happy Hour available on, I think almost every podcast app that I've seen.
Kim Essendrup: Everything we could find.
Galen Low: There you go. Awesome. Awesome. All right, let's dive into it.
Today we're gonna get nerdy about RAID logs. And I thought maybe just a level set with our listeners, can you define what a RAID log is to you and why it's important?
Kim Essendrup: Yeah. Well, I guess to put it as simply as possible, RAID log is a, RAID is an acronym for Risks, Actions, Issues and Decisions. Sometimes some organizations prefer assumptions and dependencies to actions and decisions, but we can talk about that in a bit.
But the main idea of it is that it's, the risk register action it's all these registers that you are taught to do, especially if you follow some, like a PMI methodology. The tracking these items and you just put track them all in the same spreadsheet is historically how we've done it. And it was old school when I started project management, decades ago.
So it's been around forever and it's really an indispensable operational tool to help project managers run their projects. And it's something that, in our polls you have about half of project managers, half to two thirds have used or know of it, and it's a really critical tool. And so we're evangelizing that right now.
Galen Low: Very cool. Yeah, I was one of those people who, I hadn't actually realized it, but I was in a session talking to people about our RAID log. And I was taught the risks, assumptions, issues, and dependencies model. And if someone raised their hand, they're like, are you sure it's not this? And we're like, which do you prefer and why?
Kim Essendrup: Well, so I like actions and decisions because if you think of an assumption, so assumption is a planning assumption. I'm going to do this project. What are the assumptions we have around the scope or an assumptions we have when we develop our plan? So assumption is something that goes more as an input to beginning.
And so an assumption really is, it becomes a risk because if your assumption was invalid, then that presents a risk. So assumptions naturally for me, fall right into R for risk. And dependencies, do that as well. If you've got a dependency in your project and external dependency, that is either a risk or maybe also belongs in your project schedule itself because you've got timing associated with it, maybe predecessors and successors.
So it usually goes in one of those two places. Sometimes the external dependencies are so scary that maybe they do warrant having a special tab for that, in which case, I guess it's RAIDD. But I feel like if you keep focus on the action items, and the decisions, these are more operational things. They're the more things that you need to keep on top of through the delivery of your project, and that keeps you your use of your RAID log more in an operational mindset that you use day-to-day to manage yourself and keep yourself organized.
Galen Low: No, I like that. I like the sort of propulsion forward, and I'm exactly with you. I kept falling over on the idea that all of my assumptions and dependencies were actually risks. Like they all framed as risk to me in my projects and I was like, I don't know if I'm doing this right.
Kim Essendrup: Yeah. I mean that's the, maybe the best way to start off your risk log rather is to start off with all your assumptions and dependencies that is to your whole plan on in the first place.
Galen Low: Yeah. And as you invalidate some of these assumptions or validate them, then they can come right off. I like that. We talked about how important a RAID log is, and I do appreciate, especially with the decision side of things.
Having it all sort of together, especially in one log, rather than having, eight different documents that people need to inspect and keep up to date and generally not look at, frankly, throughout the project.
Kim Essendrup: Either that or you're having to go and do your search through your outlook oh my gosh, where's that email? I know there was an email here somewhere.
Galen Low: I'm the king of Outlook searches because I am the king of not organizing my inbox at all. But yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And one of the things we were talking about earlier was just, you know, this is, yes, obviously it's about risk, but it's something that can keep your project from falling in to catastrophic scenarios. Not to make it sound super scary, but it really helps keep things on rails. Can you tell me about how you would use a RAID log to do that? Like functionally?
Kim Essendrup: Yeah, so I like to think of it. It's, use it for run or rescue of any project. And the run part is really important because if you're not doing it, you're probably going to end up having to get rescue your own project.
And so if you think about the tools that you use to manage your projects, so you've got your plan or your backlog, you know these things that you have, all the things that you do, all of your items that directly contribute to or create your deliverables, and that's great. That's what we do, right? Those are the things. But where a RAID log comes in is how do you make sure that those things get done right?
So the RAID log isn't the plan, it's the way that you make sure that the plan gets executed. And inevitably, I mean, who has a project that goes perfectly? I mean, if you are, you're a very lucky person. But you're going to have problems. You're going to have challenges. Things can go wrong, things do go wrong.
And what do you use to manage it? Well, you don't use your schedule, you use your RAID log to identify where are the things that are gonna go wrong, what are the, all the little action items. I've gotta stay on top of to make sure that I don't fall behind and my team doesn't fall behind. What are all of the issues that have come up and how do I get those resolved in the quickest possible way so I can keep my project as on track as I possibly can?
And what are the decisions I have to expect and plan for, or implement and respond to or get made that I didn't think of at the beginning of this project? Those are all the kinds of things that we need to do and to use to keep our project plans on track and deliver them successfully.
And when you're not doing those things, when you're not thinking about risk, you're not planning for and getting decisions made and codified, that's when the plan starts to fall apart. So it's really all about managing those basics, and that's really where projects go wrong, is when you're not minding the basics and staying on top of that. And that's really, for me, the magic of a RAID log is. It's so stupid simple, but it's so important for helping us stay on top of the basics.
Galen Low: You mentioned about coaching in your background. And I'm just wondering if you have any stories of exactly that, where things were just going off the rails and you're like, actually, I think this can be solved by something as basic as a RAID log.
Kim Essendrup: Oh yeah. So some years ago I took over a PMO that was based in Europe, which was really cool because I got to have company funded travel to Europe, which was pretty cool. But I was still living in the Phoenix area, so I would go over there maybe once a month, and it was a really cool organization.
But you know, when you take over the role of a PMO manager, you are also now in charge of all the fires. And so it was a Friday. And you know when you get a phone call on a Friday about a project, it's never a good call about a project. And it was midday my time, late afternoon or evening in the UK time.
And they said, this project is going so bad that the customer's threatening to charge us for the trouble and then cancel the contract. And so Monday morning, I was not in Phoenix anymore. I was up in the Midlands in the UK. And I had to get the project under control. And so I went in and the customer was absolutely livid.
I was there with our whole team, and they read through all of the problems that they had and everything they said. I thought, that sounds legitimate. I think I'd be upset too. I'd be mad too. So they went through all their challenges and all their problems and I thought, wow. So I looked at my side of the table and I said, do you have any issues?
And they lit up. Oh my gosh, the customer didn't give us this. You guys didn't give us this. We couldn't be successful cuz you didn't give us all the things that we needed to be successful. And the customer's saying, you didn't tell me that. I didn't know that. So I said, okay. So I looked at everybody, wait for it to be quiet.
I said, okay, can you show me your RAID log? Silent. I didn't know if they didn't know what a RAID log was, and they were too embarrassed to ask or if they realized, oh crap, we don't actually have a RAID log, so now I'm too embarrassed to say anything. So we sat there and I said, well, let's do it. So I flipped open my laptop and I had a RAID log ready.
I started going through, okay, let's log all the issues. Tell me your issues, and just got it all out. Just let everybody vent on the customer side. And I had it on the projector, so I typed everything. So I was able to acknowledge every one of their concerns, every one of their issues. And so they felt okay, now they're finally hearing me because they could see me type it down.
And I looked at my side of the table with my team. I said, well, how about you guys? What's your problem? The same thing. And so I documented it all. And then we started looking at these and saying, well, these seem like a lot of dependencies, like you are expecting this. And we didn't know we had to do that.
So we started to then, and this is where I'd say dependencies sometimes have a place in the RAID log. So I'm gonna break my rule. So let's document all these dependencies where we depend on you and you depend on us. And what was really cool was that through the course of the afternoon, instead of this side of the conference table yelling at the other side, we all gradually turned our chairs.
We weren't, we were gradually turned our chairs and we were looking up at the projector because now we weren't fighting each other, we were fighting the issues. So, long story, I know, but it really goes to show that using a RAID log to remediate a problem when you go into an issue, and I've done this with a lot of project remediation or couple of projects I've had to get involved in, is when you sit down and you use a simple tool like a RAID log, it's a great platform for getting alignment and making sure that everybody understands each other and to create a common source of problems for us to team up and work jointly on to resolve. And it really can turn those kinds of issues around, or at least help you get them under control.
Galen Low: I love that story and I also love the body language as everyone not being, face-to-face, confrontationally, head to head, they start tilting towards collaboration. Right?
Because I think one thing that we always underestimate in all of these project management, techniques and tactics, these processes, is that it's all to help communication happen. It's all to help collaboration happen. I like what you said earlier about like dependencies. I guess it could go both ways.
It's if you don't do this, then we can't do that. But in a lot of ways it's like, you do this so that we can do that. If people don't have visibility over that, then it's hard for them to understand why they need to do a thing, are they gonna put it off? And then, no one's gonna say anything and suddenly the project is miles away from where it needs to be.
And sometimes it's just about having some trace on the things that we need to keep track of. And I know it seems like heavy documentation, but at the end of the day, I don't think there's any shame in not being able to keep track of the hundreds and hundreds of things that you probably have to mind throughout your project.
Right? It's oh yeah, remember this decision, right? Of the hundreds of decisions we made this week. Yeah. It's hard have that on recall in every conversation.
Kim Essendrup: It really is, and it's one thing to be in a meeting and talk with people about making a decision or about a dependency or risk, but when you put it on a document, and especially if it's a shared document on a Zoom or a projector, and you type it out and you can all see it and you start putting people's names by it, suddenly it's a thing.
If my name is on that, I'm suddenly starting to pay attention to that. And so it's a great communication and a great accountability tool as well. And what I coach, I do a lot of coaching and mentoring for project managers, and we've got a community for our podcast. And one of the things that we come back to a lot, if you get into a new environment, you're taking over a project, get a RAID log if you don't have one.
So you have to start understanding how you're going to run the plan and manage that plan. And one of my favorite sayings is, especially if you are doing a project related to government work, as I always say, treat your RAID log like it might be subject to subpoena because one day it might be. You might wish that you had that RAID log updated.
Galen Low: A hundred percent. Yeah. I've been on a couple projects that got audited for various reasons. And yeah, not having the right documentation readily available, even if you have the data somewhere, not having to mine it out. Because that's a whole project in and of itself, but having a clean paper trail of things that happened, where there was risked, how we talked about the risks.
Yeah. It can be immensely helpful.
Kim Essendrup: Well, I bet that woke you up in the morning when you found that you had an audit that day.
Galen Low: Oh my gosh. Yeah. Open the time tracker, everybody.
I think you raised a really good point about the sort of, practicality of using a RAID log. I know a lot of folks are, they're like, well, seems like a lot to do. I know you put it up on the projector and got two teams talking to one another, but how does it look to like actually keep that as a source of truth after that moment of, alignment?
Kim Essendrup: I think the PM really has to live it. And yeah, you can look at it and say, well, gee, this is a lot more tracking, a lot more management that I have to do.
And honestly it is. I mean, you could just not do a RAID log and hope you get by the same way when you go through a yellow light. You can just close your eyes and hit the gas and hope you don't get into a car wreck. And you can succeed with that a lot of times. But you know, I know that of the failed projects I've had to go in and save, whenever I ask the question, can you show me your RAID log? The answer is always no.
And I know for me personally, when I've had projects and they start going off track, I start realizing, oh my gosh, we're going into the ditch in this one. I realize, oh crap, I haven't been keeping up with my RAID log, or I haven't done a RAID log on this.
And so that's what really, you go through that pain enough times and you realize, I think we're gonna have to do this. And if we take a step back and think of it from a big picture perspective, there are a lot of analysts that have gone out and looked at what are the failure rates of projects and success rates of projects.
And the stats are different from year to year and study to study, but consistently usually see that something like, I don't know, 70% to 80% of projects fail to meet key objectives. And somewhere I don't know, 19%, 20% of 'em actually completely fail. And we all know this, right? We're project managers.
We do this. We know problems happen and stuff gets pushed, or things are gonna cost more than you thought. So if you know that the odds are that a problem is gonna happen in your project, are you doing yourself and your project a disservice if you're not spending a little bit of time trying to avoid that?
I mean, that's our jobs, right? We're project managers. We're the heroes that pull this stuff off. And so it's that this is our kind of superhero weapon that we need to use to help keep our projects on track. That's what we do.
Galen Low: I think the stats are funny too, right? Because I feel like it goes both ways, sats anywhere, right? Not just about project management. We were like, one in three people are gonna get this thing. And you're like, huh, not me. And then when it happens to you, you're like, oh, that was bound to happen because one in three people, and not really thinking, it gives us this leeway to not address it head on and be proactive about it.
Like you said, we can just close our eyes and, speed through a yellow light. I mean, on the other hand, you could be absolutely paralyzed by it cuz you're like, my project's probably gonna fail, says the stats. But this is actually earlier when you were describing it, it's kinda like taking the reins.
You have a plan, fine, that's like a map, with a line drawn on it. But the actual steering wheel of how you're actually driving your project forward and making sure it's not just rolling off into a ditch, like, yeah, that's things like a RAID log. And I love that it's like sort of consolidated and it's clear.
And people can look at it and collaborate on it, in a boardroom and I think that's really great. But actually it makes me think of something you said earlier, which is I think like definitely for you and I, like my RAID log has always been a spreadsheet. And a lot of people are like, I just don't need another spreadsheet.
Like we don't need another thing. So like what tools are available for managing a RAID log in a project that's not necessarily Excel or Google Sheets?
Kim Essendrup: It's funny. So there are of course a lot of project management tools on the market. And Kolme Group when my PPM consultancy we've, that our team has implemented project management tools to over 650 organizations.
Which I mean is really cool to have started a consultancy that's been able to do that kind of amazing work across all different companies, the size, different sizes and different industries. But you know what's interesting is that we implement a number of tools and what we found is that, the tools out there really don't do a good job of RAID log.
I mean, a lot of tools don't do anything even close. They don't even pretend to, which is fine. They just were a great, we want to be the ultimate task management software. Or we're about enterprise resource planning and forecasting and resource management. I mean, those are really valuable use cases that organizations have to have in order to operate properly.
But what we've seen is that the tools are either ultimately for that business executive view, so it's giving them view and helping them do enterprise level or portfolio level planning, and help make those deliveries successful at that level. Or they go to the opposite end where the tool gets really simplified and it's really aimed more at the team, like really user driven where there is not a lot of management and not a lot of set up.
Just really simple, not complicated, just, Hey look, here's my task, here's my Kanban boards, track my velocity. Just really basic things that you do on a team level or something your scrum master does. But the interesting thing is with the tools kind of being pushed up or pushed down, it leads the project manager out.
What tools out there are specifically designed to make the project manager's life easier and not a lot? And so what we found through our implementations was that there was really a gap where some of these tools would do a little bit of RAID, maybe they do some risks or issues, or maybe you could get in there and I can hack something together.
I can make a Kanban board with risks and issues. And you can do that, but you lose a lot of the simplicity and the, some of the value you can get out of just your basic RAID log. And so we actually talked to some of our software partners that we talked to and said, Hey, you guys need to do our RAID log.
And he all said, well, you know what Kim? The RAID logs not on the Gartner Magic Quadrant, so no way. So I, oh, okay. And we tried to get them to do it, but they wouldn't do it. So finally what we did was we said, well fine, we're just gonna go do it because we're tired of using spreadsheets.
Cuz you know, spreadsheets, they work, but they're the same as they've always been and they have limitations. Sometimes it can be hard to share those things. It's hard to sometimes track versions to collaborate to. If you want to track all the events that happened on a particular risk that sell is now actually, a scroll down.
So it's really hard to manage and of course you're not getting all the value you should be able to get out of a tool like that. So we actually created a SaaS-based RAID log, raidlog.com. Easy to remember. And we're just in the early stages of it, but our mission is we want to make that ultimate tool for project managers to succeed.
They're the superheroes. They're the ones in charge of $1.7 trillion in capital spend in the US every year. So let's empower those people so they can be successful.
Galen Low: I love that. I think there's, that's something fascinating that you said earlier about the fact that software is actually going in two different directions, right?
That enterprise view and then the, you're just a team trying to get things done. Simplistic, simple to use, low learning curve. And they're all like derived originally probably from, concepts like Microsoft Project. And yet it's the PM who's getting left out there. I know some tools are better than others.
There's a couple tools I use. I'm like, oh yeah, they made this software the way my brain works. Right? Status updates and things like that, right? Like checking in on tasks, reminders, and what have you. But when I was thinking about it, I was like, yeah, I mean with my limited experience in project management software, I've never found like a RAID feature in there, so I'm fascinated.
Could you tell me a little bit about how it works? Does it like plug into software? Does it stand freely?
Kim Essendrup: Yeah, so it's a standalone software. It has your RAID log, so it's got user interface that looks like a spreadsheet. So you've got that interface. It's quick and easy and efficient. So if you're used to RAID logs, it's not gonna slow you down.
You're not gonna be forced to go click. Tab, tab, tab. But we also have a more, I guess, visual UI as well. That's much more intuitive if you're newer to RAID logs or if you want to say, okay, I've got this critical issue, I need to share it with an executive. I'm not gonna highlight and show one row in my risk log, and that's a little harder to demonstrate what's going on.
So our more visual components actually let you pop open up a detailed view of your issue or your decision, and let you display it in a way that you can have a business conversation. Imagine that with your stakeholders, your sponsor. And we're adding more, I guess, user-friendly features that help guide you through the different processes.
So for example, if you're familiar with a T-chart, if you make a decision, you make a little T-chart and say, here's the benefits, here's the drawbacks, and here's option. We've actually built that into our decision module. You can't do that very easily in the spreadsheet, so we thought we should do this. And we're gonna be adding heat maps and all those other things that are, you should probably do or play with, but you can't really effectively do on your own like a Monte Carlo analysis or doing kind of advanced analytics.
And later on we'll actually have AI power things in there. So that'll all be a standalone RAID log. But of course the RAID log is not the only tool you use to manage a project. So we are building integrations. We've already got one with Planview adaptive work. We're gonna be doing with a Jira, and we'll be integrating with as many tools as we can.
We're actually plugged into Zapier, if you're familiar with Zapier, which plugs into probably everything in the world. And so our vision is that we want to make the spreadsheet-based RAID log obsolete because we want to have a better solution that everyone can do. We're gonna have a really powerful free version.
So if you just want, just gimme something easy to use, that's a simple, basic RAID log. We want to have that for you. And if you're a super power user, we want to have those power features for you as well.
Galen Low: You know what I love the most about that is that in my mind it goes so much further beyond a log. In my head, log is like capturing a thing that happened or might happen. It's just like a note, you know what I mean? And that's generally how my RAID logs have looked, right? It's just like a, okay, yeah, we need to talk about this thing. But you actually have the depth, right? You can do the analysis, you can do the T-chart.
It's actually like RAID management more than a RAID log, really.
Kim Essendrup: It's even more than that. So we call it raidlog.com because this is, what we know of as the great primary operational tool. But RAID log's really haven't evolved much in the last few decades because we're limited by the tool that we have.
So our vision, what we wanna do is we want to help project managers. We want to give them the ultimate tools that they need to run a project. So we're not gonna stop with just RAID items. We're gonna incorporate lessons learned and some other things. We're gonna incorporate meeting minutes, so you can take your meeting minutes and update your RAID log at the same time, and save yourself, however many, know, hours, hours and hours a week on that.
So our goal is to be the go-to tool and then whatever scheduling tool or planning tool, backlog tool that you use, we'll plug into that, like an add-on. And so that's our vision for RAID log. We want to help take the pain out of project management.
Galen Low: I love that. I love how it's integrating into other solutions that it's open.
You've got your, Zapier integrations. Pull that in, pull that out. It's almost just like getting into just like risk analysis, managing risk, managing decisions. Fundamentally, it's that layer of collaboration that to your point, is sometimes missing when you're at the enterprise level or just like really boots on the ground.
Kim Essendrup: Yeah, and we wanna be more than cuz of all the training coaching I don't wanna just say, Hey look, here's a tool. Have fun. Is we want to build some knowledge and training and education into it. So if you go in and you're new to the idea of risk management, we wanna make it intuitive enough for you to go in and say, oh, what do I do here?
What does this do? What probability and impact? What does this mean? And we want to have in context help, but we also want to have more advanced things. And I mentioned Monte Carlo analysis, but you know, we're gonna have expected monetary value and all these things that you've heard about or maybe seen but never really used.
Because how am I gonna set my spreadsheet with this? I don't think I want to bother with that. We'll do all the work for you. So you say, well, I wonder what if I could calculate a contingency, what does this system say I should really be planning for? And then click a button after I've entered the data and there you go.
Galen Low: I love that. Because yeah, I've built several risk registers from scratch and it is a lot of formulas. I wish I didn't have to do it.
Kim Essendrup: It is. You get to a certain point, you're like, you know what? This is good enough for me. Now I gotta get this stuff going. I got a project to do here. I can't be playing with this stuff.
Galen Low: Just call it 15% contingency. Let's go.
Last question for you. I wanted to come back to something you said which was in some ways some tools are missing the project manager's stuff, right? Like the RAID things. But on the flip side of the coin, is RAID only just for project managers?
And if not, how can anyone, just use this to start, I don't know, building team culture where you've got the accountability for like risks, actions, issues and dependencies and sort of making that more of a team sport?
Kim Essendrup: Yeah, that's a great question. So of course the origins of RAID is this esoteric project management tool used by the old project managers and you learn about that way, but.
I mean, really what it's about is how do you get your plan done? And that plan doesn't necessarily have to be a project in the kind of the old waterfall definition of it. It can be at your agile, your product, you're a product owner. You've got a product that you've gotta develop as a product owner working in an agile world.
How do I manage the risks to my product? What are the decisions I need to get made? And once I get a decision made, or somebody makes a decision for me, I need to document that somehow and track it so it fits into that world as well. If I'm a scrum master, I'm running a team and we're running agile, how do I look after my team and make sure that they're able to be effective?
So the RAID log is not so much about the product, but about the team. How do I get them to be successful and how do I help support that? And you if we step back into the project management world, if I'm a PMO manager and I want to mentor my project managers, what better way to say, well, show me your RAID log.
Let's see how you're managing your projects, because I can see what you're doing and maybe offer some suggestions or at least make sure you are doing something to manage your projects and look at that. And from a project manager perspective, managing up into the organization.
If I need to get time with my PMO manager or my sponsors or stakeholders, I take my RAID log and I filter it down. Just don't show them the whole list. That's too much. Filter it down to the top three or four things I need to task them with and put them to work on. Then I can say, Hey, look, let's have a conversation about this. It shows you're on top of things and it helps engage those people.
So I think it's much, much more than just a project operational tool. I think it's a way of working, it's a way of collaborating. Not just as a way for me to keep myself organized, but really to keep my team organized and motivated and to communicate and collaborate with them.
Galen Low: I really love all those points. And there's not that many people who aren't dealing with risk or actions or issues or decisions in whatever they do.
This could be any kind of collaboration tool. And I'm glad you mentioned about the filtering because, as project managers we kinda build this higher capacity to deal with an overwhelming amount of information. And then we're like, Hey, look at my Gantt Charts. Everyone's no.
Get away from me. Get away from me. And we need to cinch it down. Right? And I think that's vital for the RAID logs is, like you said earlier, right? You have to get it into a format where you can present it and have a conversation about it with a business stakeholder, not necessarily another project manager. And you can use it to manage a team of project managers.
You can use it to manage expectations with your higher ups. It's just this nice, I was gonna say message in a bottle, but not quite. It's just a source of truth. If you can be diligent about it, it can be used for a lot of different things to make things go a lot more smoothly.
Kim Essendrup: It really is. And as I said, RAID is just the beginning and we often see that extended off to lessons learned, for example. And, one of the, it's terrible to have issues, but it's even more terrible to have the same issue over and over. So extending your RAID log a little bit by adding, you can add things like lessons learned to help address those and make your life better for next time.
Galen Low: I love that and I'm excited about the AI stuff too.
I find this really fascinating. Where can people go out and find out more about RAID log?
Kim Essendrup: Well, raidlog.com. Easy domain to remember. And even I'd love to, get people to try out the product, love them, looking for feedback because we wanna make this a great tool for project managers. So we want to engage with project managers and I want to hear, you can contact me on LinkedIn.
I love to chat with everybody. If you've got feedback on the product, on the podcast on, or you just wanna nerd out about project management, I'd love to do that. And if you totally knew to RAID logs and you're thinking, what is this about? I actually wrote a book because strangely, there was no book on RAID logs. So I saw, I gotta fix this. So, if you go to Amazon and just Google, "Ultimate Guide to RAID Log" you'll find my book because I think it's the only book on RAID log.
Galen Low: That's incredible. I had no idea. That's amazing. I'll include all those links in the show notes as well for listeners. And I'm gonna go check it out as well because I think it's fascinating and it's something that, honestly, it never occurred to me. I was like, yeah, it's a spreadsheet, right? So I'm definitely gonna dig into that.
Kim Essendrup: Awesome.
Galen Low: Awesome. Kim, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate your insights. I always love nerding out on project management stuff, especially like these things, right? These like things of project management lore, RAID logs and risk registers and all these things that are almost impenetrable. But actually when we start talking about it, they're actually really basic and actually really sensible things to have.
So I really appreciate your perspective on that. That was really great.
Kim Essendrup: Well, thanks so much for having me, Galen.
Galen Low: Alright folks, there you have it. As always, if you'd like to join the conversation with over a thousand like-minded project management champions, come and join our collective. Head over to thedigitalprojectmanager.com/membership to learn more.
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