What is Issues Management?

The state of business

There comes a time when every organization approaches the metaphorical fork in the road: one path leading to innovation, the other leading to failure. No matter the size of your organization or the goals you’re up against, political uncertainty, instantaneous news cycles, social media and a world that is more interconnected than ever create gaps that put your organization at risk.   

Whether it’s intense global competition, a changing workforce with different expectations for their employer, intensified regulatory and legislative battles, advocacy campaigns that challenge a brand’s reputation and identity, or teams separated by geography, language, and/or strategies, organizations could not be facing a more difficult time to achieve their goals.

Staying ahead (or at least in lockstep with) of today’s ever-changing sociopolitical climate, the competition, and/or internal expectations from C-Suite-executives are challenges that organizations all over the world today face head on. To stay on top of it all, more and more companies are starting to rely on a technology solution for issues management.

This white paper defines issues management and issues, explains the issues management process and the importance of having a single system of record (the technology part) and last, but not least, addresses how successful organizations manage their issues.

What is issues management?

Issues management is the strategic methodology and process of closing the gap across stakeholders and their activities, with the goal of minimizing organizational risk and/or leveraging opportunities.

The concept is not new and is probably a practice your organization already does in some way – the more important question is: does your organization do it well?

The challenge with issues management

When teams identify a new issue facing their company, rarely can it be solved with one email. When a stakeholder needs the status on an issue, rarely can she get the whole story from just one person or from a single system of record. This is because the devil is in the [issue management] details, and more times than not, those details are stored across many folders, in many tools, on many machines, in many people’s brains, and for the biggest companies, in different countries.

What are issues?

An issue starts out as an emerging or ongoing trend in the sociopolitical environment that arises from an actual or perceived gap across organizational stakeholders and activities. To put it more simply, issues come in all shapes and sizes.

What might this look like in real life? A local government ordering a transportation network company to cease operations due to lobbying efforts by the taxi industry, to an airline company involved in a public relations scandal, a tech company taking advantage of the data privacy rights of its users, or even internal miscommunication; issues are anything that affect your bottom line, create gaps across stakeholders and ultimately infiltrate every corner of an organization’s hierarchy and strategy.

So, does your organization have issues? Are you managing them effectively? Organizations all over the world, of all sizes and in all industries struggle with issues and how to effectively manage them – but don’t worry, we have a plan to help you master issues management.   

How to succeed at issues management

Typically organizations use multiple tools and practices for managing issues and as teams expand and issues become global, these workaround systems lead to inefficiencies, misalignment and knowledge slipping through the cracks.

There are two factors that lead to organizations getting issues management right:

  1. Strictly adhering to the issues management process: discovery, planning, execution and measurement (more on this later)  
  2. Using a single technology solution as their system of record


The issues management process

As discussed earlier, the issues management process encompasses four key phases. The companies that are most successful at issues management adopt this process as their workflow. Let’s dive in.

Factor 1: The issues management process:

  1. Phase I: discovery. Discovery and tracking is probably the most obvious, understandable component of issues management. You can’t manage an issue without the ability to find relevant issue related information/documents and monitor their status.

  2. Phase II: planning. When talking about planning, we’re referring to the mechanics that allow your organization to take action when necessary by bringing together the necessary internal and external stakeholders.

  3. Phase III: execution. By Execution, we mean the completion of tasks and assignments by the advocates assigned to the project at hand. Clear and defined from beginning to end, these advocates have by far the most important role within the process and have to be given the essential tools and resources to complete their assignments.
  4. Phase IV: measurement. In order to prove the ROI of your team’s efforts, and if your team will be tasked again with growing the organization, it is critical to be able to measure their effectiveness and whether or not their efforts were truly successful.

Factor 2: Single system of record

As discussed earlier, critical information about issues an organization faces are typically found in different folders, systems, brains, etc. Companies that excel at issues management figured out that even if they strictly adhered to the issues management process, they still ran into issues because there wasn’t a single system of record for all of that knowledge and data to be stored.

The solution:

An integrated technology solution that makes discovery effortless, enables strategic planning through stakeholder management, preserves knowledge across the lifecycle of an issue, and provides centralized collaboration tools for efficient sharing, access, updating, and reporting. The Fiscalnote GRM platform brings together data, analytics, and workflow to create an application that supports all phases of the issue management process.


All companies have issues – no matter the size of an organization or the goals it’s up against.   What differentiates companies that thrive from those that don’t is how effectively they are at issues management.

There are two factors that must be in place to be success at issues management:

  1. Adopting the issues management process into your workflow
  2. Using single system of record where the issues management process comes to life

Issues management is not a new feature, a module, or a product that a team can buy. Issues management is a new workflow and process to change how teams can truly make substantive differences to an organization’s bottom line and strategy. As the world continues to change and become increasingly more interconnected, the way companies practice issues management has to evolve too.

FiscalNote is reinventing how organizations approach issues management. FiscalNote’s GRM platform now brings together data, analytics, and workflow to support all phases of the issues management process – making your organization’s work more powerful.