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How to Manage Risks and Issues with Project Server 2013 or Project Online

flopAs part of your project management work, you’ll most probably have to manage risks and issues. The goal of this article is to show how risks and issues (but also documents or deliverables) can be managed within Microsoft Project Server 2013 or Project Online and linked with projects, tasks or any other assets.

Before we start, let see how the Project Management Institute® (PMI) PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition defines the concepts of issue and risk:

“Issue: A point or matter in question or in dispute, or a point or matter that is not settled and is under discussion or over which there are opposing views or disagreements.”

“Risk: An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives.”

Here’s how I explain it: Risks might occur and we need to manage this eventuality, whereas issues are events that are already happening and we need to manage their consequences.

A Demo Project

For the demo, let’s use a simple project called [Related items project], that has the following schedule.


By default, when a project is created, a SharePoint site is provisioned (what is called project site).


On the home page of the project Site, you have links to documents, deliverables, risks and issues. If you click on the Issue link, you can access the issue list. The issue list is a SharePoint-based custom list with a predefined structure.


Same for the list of risks.


I have created some issues and risks and added documents. When we return to the project center, we notice the following icons on the Indicators column:


Here’s what they mean:

1The project is based on an enterprise project type.
2The project is based on a SharePoint tasks list.
3Issues are associated with the project.
4Risks are associated with the project.
5Documents are associated with the project.

Assigning Risks, Issues, Deliverables or Documents to a Task

I have created risks, issues and documents on the Project site. By default, these assets are assigned to the project. To attach one of them to a specific task, here’s the procedure:

  1. On the Schedule page, select the task you want items to be attached to, then select the Options tab and click Related Items.


This opens the [Task 1] detail page.

It’s important here to notice that the task detail page from the project site tasks list is displayed and not the task within the schedule as such. A list of tasks from the project site, which we can see as a proxy of the schedule’s tasks, are populated or updated on publication.

Second, also notice that if your project has more than 5,000 tasks, you’ll face throttling issues in publishing the tasks to the list and there will be nothing to link to.


  1. Click on ADD RELATED ITEM (yes, for whatever reason, the program capitalized those letters).
  1. On the Select an Asset pop up window, you can navigate to your project site and select the asset to link. I selected Risks and chose [Risk #2: Risk assigned to me]. Location (URL) is updated with /OGMS/Related items project/Lists/Risks/2_.000:


  1. Click Insert. The pop up closes and the task detail page refreshes with the related item.


From a task, you can insert related risks, issues, deliverables, documents or any other site assets (such as a list’s item or calendar event).

The opposite is also possible. From a risk or issue you can add related tasks.


When we return to the Schedule page, the icons appear on the Indicators column for each impacted task.


Viewing Issues and Risks Assigned to You

On the quick launch (left navigation), you have a link to Issues and Risks, that displays issues and risks assigned to you (but not owned by you).


Links within Microsoft Project

From Microsoft Project Pro (or Project Pro for Office 365), clicking on the File tab, Info menu, you can access related items using the links on the page.


A version of this article first appeared on Jeremy Cottino’s blog.

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Written by Jeremy Cottino

Jeremy Cottino, PMP, ITIL certified, is a senior project manager with eight years of experience in project planning/scheduling and management of large IS/IT projects for multinational companies. He’s also a technology enthusiast and Microsoft Project MVP. Visit Jeremy’s blog or email him at jcottino@hotmail.com.

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  1. Thank you Jeremy for this very useful post! I am currently finding my way around Project Online and this has been very helpful.

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    Happy this helps 🙂

  3. Hello,
    Is there a way to track the changes from and to assignee? when it was first closed? reopened? etc.
    Been trying to get it on the front end as an user but cannot seem to find it.

    On the database end, which table would log that information?

  4. Hi Jeremy, real insightful article, thank you.

    How do you recommend incorporating customer feedback/approvals for issues, risks, and documents? Is there a way to add customers as an external participant with limited access? The same question may apply to internal team members who do not need a full PM license but just need to review items or update task status.


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