Your project is finally at an end. The final deadline has been met; your product is complete. You might think that this is the ideal time to take a break – catch your breath, put your feet up and wait for the next project to come along.
Actually, now is the perfect time to review all the events of the previous projects, and most importantly a time to compile a list of Lessons Learned. And it really is necessary to do this – you do not want to find yourself repeating the same mistakes as in the previous project. If you repeat the successful elements of your previous projects, while eliminating the unsuccessful ones, you can only get better and better as a Project Manager!
Involving Your Team
As in all aspects of Project Management, it is essential that you involve your team in your end-of-project analysis. They will have different perspectives on the project, and will also have noticed problems which you, and others in the team, have not. Further to this, it is important that the team understand any changes you instigate for the next project.
To get your team fully involved, you need to hold a post-project meeting. Send a memo around to all your team members, giving them a list of questions about the last project which they can think about and respond to in the meeting. Distributing the questions beforehand gives all your team members a chance to think, and means that you will be given better and more thought-through answers in response to your questions.
What questions should you ask? Well, that is up to you, but they need to encompass the entire project. When sending out your original list of questions, you can be quite general – you will ask more specific ones during the meeting.
To begin with, you might want to ask about:
- What team members found most satisfying about the project.
- What was unsatisfying for them.
- If they wanted particularly to change anything about the project.
- Which processes were particularly easy or effective.
- Which processes were particularly difficult or ineffectual.
- If the team were happy with the finished article.
Once your team has had sufficient time to consider your questions, the meeting can be held. During the meeting, you should focus on different aspects of the project, one at a time, so that your team can focus on their thoughts about each. The aspects to focus on are:
- The pre-project analysis
- The setting-up period, when the project was planned
- Creative aspects of the project
- The test strategies used
Take your time to ask your team questions on these topics. Some questions you might want to use are:
- Did the pre-project analysis identify all the necessary deliverables, or were there aspects which needed to be improvised? If the latter, how can this be avoided in the future?
- Did you identify non-essential deliverables? Again, how can this be avoided?
- How could you have improved this phase?
Planning the Project
- When estimating the scale of the project, how accurate were you? How could this be improved?
- Were the right people assigned to all project roles?
- Were there any early warning signs of thing which went wrong later in the project? How can these be identified so as to avoid them later on?
- Could the project have been completed with fewer vendors or contractors?
- Were the needs of the project explained to vendors and contractors from the beginning? Were these made clear enough?
- Were there any difficulties negotiating the vendor contract? How could these have been avoided?
- Were there any difficulties with the paperwork for necessary purchases?
- Which team members or stakeholders were missing early on in the project? How can you ensure they are there from the beginning?
- Were all roles and responsibilities laid out from the beginning? Were they clear enough?
- Were milestones, schedule dates and targets identified to the team members and made clear? If not, how could this be improved?
- Were the blueprints for the finished product approved by all? If not, how do the team think they could be improved?
- Did all the important players in a project have a hand in its creative aspects? If not, how could they be involved/ more involved?
- Did the project’s reviewers provide useful, constructive criticism? If not, how could their involvement be increased?
- How else could the creative process be improved upon?
- Was the test audience used a true representation of the product’s intended audience? If not, how can better representation for the future be ensured?
- Was the test followed out in circumstances which reflected the actual conditions the product would be used in? If not, how can you ensure that they will be in the future?
- Did you get timely and useful feedback about the product from the test audience? If not, why not, and how can this be changed in the future?
- Was the strategy for the execution of the project successful? If not, how could the strategy be improved?
Silicon Beach Training is a Brighton based IT and Business Training centre. We provide a range of Project Management courses including APMG accredited PRINCE2 Practitioner Training and Agile Project Management Training. All of our courses have small class sizes, high pass rates and great trainers. As well as business and management training, we are leading the way in Mobile Development Training by offering Mobile Web Design Training, Android App Training and iPhone App Training. We believe the future is mobile and that any business not prepared for mobile technology is not prepared for 2012.
About Our Guest Contributor
Silicon Beach Training is a Brighton based IT and Business Training centre. We provide a range of Project Management courses including APMG accredited PRINCE2 Practitioner Training and Agile Project Management Training. All of our courses have small class sizes, high pass rates and great trainers.
As well as business and management training, we are leading the way in Mobile Development Training by offering Mobile Web Design Training, Android App Training and iPhone App Training. We believe the future is mobile and that any business not prepared for mobile technology is not prepared for 2012.