Project Post-Mortem: Do or Doom

The importance of a project post-mortem is often overlooked.  Many organization do not value or make time for this critical project closing activity.  And often enough, the perception is due to ineffective facilitation of this vital process.

At InvestorCOM, we take this process very seriously and always ensures that a post mortem is conducted.  In fact, our post mortem process and meetings are continuously scrutinized, and redefined.  Here are some tips for an effective post-mortem:


  • Do your homework: In preparation for the post review meetings, gather project data for analysis and identify variances. Is the project over or under budget?  Which tasks/phase caused the project overruns?  How many change requests were issued and why? How many defects were raised?
  • Identify trends: It is important to review the project performance against other similar projects; and you may be pleasantly surprised; or not. Maintaining a project repository/database that stores key project results allows for trending.  For example, although your project may be slightly over budget, you may find that budget variance is on a downward trend; therefore, it is still positive result to share and a reflection of improvement.   Another example, project defects may appear within a reasonable percentage however trending may show that project defects are on the rise. To sum it up, trending is a valuable means of identifying issues and improvements.
  • Point out previous lessons learned: Does your company collect lessons learned?  The question is what do you do with them.  All lessons learned must be stored into a central repository so they are easily accessible; and ideally in a lesson learned database.  There should be a task in every project plan in the planning and initiation phase to review any lessons learned that may help the new project.  And as part of the post-mortem process, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the lessons learned; identify if it benefit the project.  It is always important to evaluate the effectiveness of processes and to share any positive or negative result.

There are many other tips to share but here is a link that sums up 9 steps for holding a successful port-mortem.

Why spend all the effort examining project results? Continuous improvement!  Here is a link to an interesting article with 5 other key reasons.

Stay tuned for some more InvestorCOM Project Management tips!