A project is never really complete until you, the project manager, take time to review what went right and what went wrong during the course of the project. Engaging in this review will help improve your team’s effectiveness, efficiency, and overall outcome quality. Many teams simply move onto the next project without stepping back and learning from the last project. Let no project go to waste by taking the necessary time with your team to learn as much as you can so your next project will be all the better. To run an effective review session, follow these basic guidelines:
- Be clear with the point of the meeting. This is especially important if this is the first time you and your team are engaging in a thorough review of a recently completed project. Explain that this discussion is geared towards attaining a firm understanding of everything that went right and everything that went wrong during a project. One of the objectives should be to generate a concrete list of lessons learned for future projects.
- This is a discussion. You, as the project leader, should solicit input from everybody. Don’t just limit the discussion to the nuts and bolts of this particular project. Allow the conversation to address the theme of the project, or general issues the team is experiencing. Use the most recent project as a jumping off point and then expand. Just be sure to return to the project at the end so you can summarize everything in a nice set of takeaways going forward. Some project managers like to split the review into two separate meetings. One for discussing everything and a second for actually generating the list of action items for future projects. Think about which format would work best for your team.
- Take notes for yourself during the meeting on what you, as the leader, need to be working on for future projects. Were you delegating tasks to appropriate people? Were your estimates appropriate? Were people clear about the objectives for the project? Making a list of action items for yourself as the team leader will both benefit you and your team going forward.
- You are the facilitator in this meeting. Allow your team to speak openly and honestly. Do not input too much of your own opinion. You need to be listening to your team members to hear what their real, unfiltered thoughts on the project were in order to improve things for the next project.
- Do not allow people to start pointing fingers at other team members. This is unproductive. Focus on group responsibility and perhaps delegate differently if certain responsibilities are a recurring issue.
Are there other things you do during your project review meetings? Tweet us your best advice for a well-run project review.