A project post mortem is also colloquially referred to as a ‘project retrospective,’ It may be defined as a “process that has been initiated for evaluating the success (or failure) of a project's ability to meet business goals.”
Such business related ‘Post mortems’ are typically conducted when the project has been concluded. They are useful tools for understanding the success (or lack of it thereof) of a project. They may also be used at the conclusion of a specific stage of a multi-phase project. Theactual term post mortem is a Latin derivative and in the literal sense means "after death." In the health care industry this term is widely used to describe the examination of a cadaver so as to be able to determine the cause of death.
Following are some tips for deriving the most out of a single or a series of ‘project post mortem’ meetings:
Have a post mortem for each and every individual project regardless of size and outcome
Project post mortems are a really great learning experience and serve as road side indicators to ensure that mistakes are not repeated. A great sage once stated that:” Only a fool trips over the same stone twice”This is where a project post mortem comes into its own. Even with small projects, the odds are that there will be things that would help you increase your learning on how to do things when a bigger project is under consideration
Another point to note is that a ‘Project poet mortem” should be conducted even if the project was successful beyond the wildest dreams of the project stakeholders. The key learning points might be used to make sure that they may be replicated in other projects as well.
Have a pre-planned agenda ready
As with all other types of meetings a project post mortem meeting should also have a pre-defined agenda. This will help make sure that the meeting stays focused and does not waste the precious time of the participants of the meeting.
Have a positive mindset before hand
This is by far the most important tip on this list. The whole point of a project post mortem is not to degrade and humiliate team members basedon what may have gone wrong, nor should a post mortem be conducted to play the ‘blame game’ and create scapegoats.
The point of the whole process is not to score or deduct points for subsequent performance appraisal of the various subordinates and project team members,but rather to help seek out constructive lessons that would be useful for future projects and their successful conclusion.
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