In short, a post-implementation review is a process to evaluate whether the objectives of the project were met. You can also use it to see how effective the project was managed. This helps to avoid making similar mistakes with future projects and learning how to run the project better.
Post-implementation review is the last step in your project cycle and usually involves an independent party, which can act more objectively in making their determinations about how the project was run. This provides the stakeholders of the project the confidence to know that the objectives of the project were met successfully.
How do you lead a post-mortem on your project to learn how to repeat the good stuff and lose the bad stuff? Read on.
What Is Post-Implementation Review?
What are you going to do when the project’s over? Have a little celebration and move on to the next one, right? The project might be over, but the process continues.
That means that if you delivered a product or a service, the project might be completed, but you still need to check on the viability of the product or service. You might have achieved the goals you set out for the project, but what about the business needs that product or service was responding to?
Think of it as an ongoing step in your project closure process. It’s a post-project review or post-implementation review, which is part of your project management responsibilities. It’s also a great way to identify project successes, deliverables, achievements and learn lessons from those parts of the project that didn’t work out as planned.
How do you practically apply a post-implementation review? How can you be sure that the project solved the problems it was created to address? Are there more benefits that can be unpacked from the project? What are the lessoned learned? To answer those and more questions, you need to follow a process.
What Is the Post-Implementation Review Process?
To get the most out of your project, you want to employ a post-implementation review process. While this can start at any time after the initial project has been complete, starting it sooner than later makes sure that the project details are still fresh in the team’s mind.
While go get the most from the process, you’ll want to wait a while, after the project’s product or service has had time to exist in the real world. But at least start the process by beginning to list ideas and observations. You don’t want to wait until the participants are distracted by other projects.
How to Conduct a Post-Implementation Review
After the project’s deliverables have gone through at least one successful business cycle, you can get started on the review. There are project closure checklists that help frame the process. Here are some of the best practices for conducting the review include the following.
- Trust. To get the information you need, you want honesty from your participants. Therefore, tell them you want openness, without fear of retribution. The more critical and truthful their observations about the project are, the more successful the review.
- Objectivity. While you want honesty, you don’t want sour grapes or interpersonal issues clouding observations with bad feelings or to settle old scores. Seek objectivity, or as close to an impartial critique as can be expected.
- Documentation. Like all project management, you want to create a paper trail that illustrates how you went from Point A to Point B. By documenting the practices and procedures that created the successes in the project, you’ll be able to follow them again in future projects.
- Hindsight. As you develop a narrative as to what worked and what didn’t, what surprises arose during the project and how you dealt with them, understand that this hindsight vision can also help as you look forward towards new projects.
- Improvement. The point of this review process is not to blame individuals or teams for mistakes, but to learn from experience and then apply that knowledge to future projects. Stay focused on what’s next, rather than looking back as a means of applying guilt.
Post-Implementation Review Methods
There are many ways to gather the information you want to determine what worked and what didn’t in your project. Here are some examples.
- Gap Analysis. This method of assessing how a plan differed from the actual application is always a powerful tool to see what benchmarks you met, and which you didn’t. You can start with your project charter and see how closely you adhered to your objectives. Look at your deliverables. Are they at a quality level you expected? When there are gaps discovered, figure out how they can be closed.
- Project Goals. Simply put, did you achieve the goals of your project? Are your deliverables functioning as planned? What was the error rate of the project? Can the deliverables adjust to changes in the market? How well-trained and supported are end-users? What controls and systems are in place and are they working? Are problems being addressed? Did you planned goal align with your result?
- Stakeholders. How satisfied are your stakeholders? Were users needs met? What effect did the project have on them? If there is dissatisfaction, why is that and what can you do to resolve it?
- Cost. How much did the project end up costing? What are the costs involved in operating the project’s result? Are the costs aligned to the benefits of the project? If this isn’t the case, how can you improve the cost next time?
- Benefits. Did the project achieve the benefits projected, and if not why and how can that be improved? What opportunities are there to further the results? Are there other changes you could apply to help maximize the project’s results?
- Lessons. Did the project’s deliverable, schedule and budget all meet expectations, and if not why? What were some of the issues that arose during the running of the project and how could they be avoided for the next project? What went well, and what can you learn from that experience?
- Report. Document what you learned from the review, whether there is actions needed to get the beneficial results you want and list the lessons you’ve learned, noting how the project can impact future projects, so you can build on success and avoid problems.
Final Thoughts on Post-Implementation Review
There are many ways to close a project, but too often the post-implementation review is neglected. It’s understandable, as a critical review can open some old wounds.
When you’re dealing with a lot of people and asking them for criticism of the project, there’s the potential to step on someone’s toes and create hurt feelings that can creates some unpleasant political issues within your team or organization. Therefore, be clear that what you’re interested in is not a personal attack, but a systemic overview of process and how everyone together can work towards improving it. That’s why it often helps to hire an independent party to collect the post-project data.
Don’t forget to review all the project documentation. It’ll help you better assess what worked and what didn’t, and provide you with an overview of the project and where there might have been unforeseen holes that you can then fill in with upcoming projects.
When you’re done with the review be completely transparent. Share your findings in a report and make sure everyone has access to these documents. If you want to, it can help if you present the information to the organization. Your goal is to create better projects, and that information isn’t proprietary. Everyone has a need to know.
When you’re conducting a post-implementation review, you’re working with a lot of data. That information touches all aspects of the project. If you’ve been managing that project with a project management software, the data you need is already collected, and the review process can be aided by the communications and connections that the tool has already established. That’s why ProjectManager.com is so useful. Our cloud-based software is gathering real-time data and collecting in easy-to-share manner that can be reported on clearly. Not only does it help plan and monitor your project, but report on it too. See how by taking this free 30-day trial.