Post-Project Review Guidelines
Review Meeting Participants and Their Responsibilities
Once the project team has decided to close the project or if at any point, it has been established that the project cannot proceed as planned and therefore has to be stopped, a post-project review meeting is scheduled. The primary purpose of this post-project review meeting is to assess what happened throughout the project – what went well, what didn’t go according to plan, etc. – and to establish lessons that can be passed on to future project teams. The output from this meeting goes into the post-project review report that forms part of the project report to be submitted by the project team.
Each participant in a post-project review meeting has different responsibilities for the preparation, procedures, and follow-up of the post-project review but there are also some responsibilities that may be shared or common to some of the participants.
The main participants of the post-project review meeting are:
1. A Facilitator
2. Project Manager and/or Project Stage or Phase Managers
3. Project Team members
Let’s take a look at the different participants and their responsibilities in detail:
The project team can decide to have a facilitator that comes from within the project team or designate an external party. The rationale behind the designation of an external party as facilitator is mainly to uphold the objectivity of the review process to be implemented in the meeting.
Some of the responsibilities of the facilitator are as follows:
- Prepares for the post- project review meeting by setting the date, time, and place, planning the agenda and, based on the agenda, establishing what needs to be prepared by the participants for the meeting.
- Distributes the necessary materials to all participants at least two working days before the review meeting.
- Orients the participants regarding their responsibilities for the meeting and what is to be accomplished through the meeting.
- Reviews any materials distributed (by any of the participants) prior to the meeting.
- Sets the tone for the meeting and ensures that the meeting is going according to plan.
- Establishes guidelines on how to proceed with the discussions and decision-making within the meeting effectively and efficiently.
- Ensures that group discussions flow smoothly and as quickly as possible (e.g., summarizing points, establishing decision items, pointing out what part of the agenda is being tackled.
- Gives mini-progress updates so the group knows what it has accomplished at a given point in time in the meeting.
- Helps members of the group maintain effective working relationships.
- Takes notes for the meeting, including the formal recording of all accomplishments made, problem areas identified, and decisions made. The group can decide to assign someone, other than the facilitator, to do this task.
- Prepares and distributes the post-project review report to all the participants and others that may have been identified as recipients by the project team.
2. Project Manager and/or Project Stage or Phase Manager/s
Depending on the complexity of the project, there may be one Project Manager (e.g. in a small data encoding project) or several Project Stage or Phase Managers (e.g., for a multi-phase information security infrastructure project).
Some of the responsibilities for the meeting of such managers are as follows
- Prepares any materials necessary for the meeting and gives these to the facilitator at least three working days before the review meeting. This will give the facilitator enough time to put the materials together before distributing them to the participants according to the timetable mentioned in the responsibilities of the facilitator.
- Presents an overview of the project, project stage or phase, or key milestone for which the review is being conducted.
- Assists the facilitator in ensuring the meeting is proceeding according to plan.
- Records all accomplishments made, problem areas identified, and decisions made at the appropriate level of detail for action later. These notes are in addition to those recorded by the facilitator or the person designated to take down notes for the meeting.
- Actively participates in the group discussions and decision-making and encourages the other participants to actively participate as well.
- Assists the Facilitator in writing the post-project review report.
After the post-project review meeting, ensures that the action items decided upon in the meeting are done to resolve identified problem areas as quickly as possible.
3. Project Team Members
The Team Members:
- Prepare well prior to the post-mortem by thoroughly reading and taking notes about any relevant project, project stage, or key milestone materials.
- Identify what went well for them and what did not go according to plan (both from a team and individual perspective).
- Suggest reasons for the identified problem areas, bottlenecks or obstacles.
- Actively participate in the group discussions and decision-making, especially in the area of problem resolution and identification of lessons learned.
The success of a post-project review meeting lies in the ability of the participants to effectively and objectively assess the strengths and the areas for improvement in the project that they have just gone through. It is not a time for pointing fingers and assessing who is to blame for this problem or this obstacle. Through the objective assessment and the identification of lessons learned, future project teams can look to being able to manage their projects better and more effectively.