10 Steps To Better Project Reviews/Retrospectives

One of the more common aspects of projects that are often skimmed over too quickly is that of project reviews – also called project post-mortems, post-project reviews, post implementation reviews and Agile Retrospectives.  It is often scheduled to occur at the end of a project, but doesn’t happen due to:

  • Competing priorities
  • Running over budget
  • New projects already started and/or running late

Even though they are generally conducted at the end of projects, they can in fact be conducted at any time during the project life cycle.  When you conduct them at the end of a phase or major piece of work you have the opportunity to gain useful and productive insights whilst there is still time –project team members have better visibility of what is going on as well as providing benefits to other projects and the organisation as a whole.

How reviews are conducted depends on your style of running a project (and company for that matter) – some like things done in a formal way, other like to make it a social, egalitarian gathering where anyone can raise anything with fear of recrimination.  The more enlightened managers will engender an environment where this is appreciated.

Doing some leg work first will enable things to run smoother – people like to have something already started rather than having a blank sheet of paper or whiteboard starting back at them.

What are some simple steps to conducting effective reviews?  At Zenkara, we use 10:

  1. Identify stakeholders
  2. Identify the best method to gather information from each group/person
  3. Schedule review walkthrough/retrospective
  4. Provide brief of what will be covered and the rules of engagement
  5. Collect factual details (scope, budget, schedule, quality)
  6. Gather input from people who can’t attend
  7. Review what is currently working well, where we’re off-track, what we can do about it for various areas of the project
  8. Allocate actions to relevant stakeholders
  9. Forward results to all team members, stakeholders and place on a common board for everyone to see
  10. Integrate actions where appropriate into company procedures/forms

We’ve put this into a simple checklist…

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One Response to 10 Steps To Better Project Reviews/Retrospectives

  1. The retros we used to run basically had 3 columns on a whiteboard – “What’s good” – “What’s Bad” and “What’s Confusing/Unknown” (usually shown by a smile, a frown and a question mark 🙂

    This usually was sufficient to bring out skeletons, problems and hassles while also celebrating achievements and clarifying issues (or highlighting areas that needed more research).

    Typically we’d take a photo of the whiteboard and load that plus a list of the action items on the shared space for the team. Very handy for tracking without requiring large amounts of paperwork.

    Yeah, I’m into lean methods 🙂

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