One of the tricks of the trade that I have learned on the functional level is that whatever isn’t completed on time automatically gets escalated to the project management level. That's key in the sense that a functional issue may not be critical at first, but if the team is distracted or overwhelmed, that issue may become critical once it passes its due date. The same thing goes for the project management team. If there's a project management issue that's falling through the cracks, then they need to assess and triage it. If it's going on because of decisions that are not resolved in time, then the steering committee might need to be involved if it crosses organizational areas or functional areas. Issue management becomes one of those key areas that needs to have very relevant and appropriate due dates. When those due dates are missed by each of the project levels, it's escalated to the next level up.
That idea leads back to the importance of stage gates – it's the same concept. We don't want to enter SIT or testing sessions with a certain number of open issues. It’s all about making sure that all of those are very clearly delineated early on. This is a good time to bring in that steering committee member or the executive sponsor who is more familiar with the project to keep everything moving forward.