Learning Through Project Implementation Reviews

A project post implementation review (PIR) allows time to consider the effectiveness of a project. A PIR is an important tool to improve your project management skills. By considering what worked and what didn’t during the project you can improve your methods for next time. The PIR process can be very formal in some organisations with set templates to complete, however even for smaller projects it is worth conducting your own review. This time for reflection makes it easier to learn from yours’ and others’ mistakes. It is vital that you incorporate the findings from your PIR into your project management system so that improvements are used for next time. Although some organisations have PIR libraries, unless these are very well indexed their value is relatively low.

A PIR should be done with an open attitude. A PIR is NOT an opportunity to blame people or companies for a project’s poor performance. A PIR should answer one question: “How can we do it better next time? “, and produce one result incorporating lessons learned as improvements into your project delivery system. Some important areas to consider answering this question are:

Deliverables

  • Did the project meet its’ deliverables? If not why not? Could these reasons have been avoided? If so how?
  • How could the deliverables been done better – different format, more stakeholder input or engagement.
  • Did you involve the right people in the project?
  • What systems or processes worked really well in delivering this project that could be incorporated into our project delivery system?

Time

  • Did the project come in on-time? If not why not? How could we have improved the timely delivery? Did we allow for enough contingency?
  • Did events come up that were unexpected. Could this have been foreseen at the start of the project?

Budget

  • Did the project come in on budget? If not why not?
  • Was there an extension of project scope that justified the budget extension? Could we have foreseen that the project would require adjustment of scope?

Try to be as objective as possible when identifying the root cause of a problem. Isolate the component of your project management system that needs to be improved. For example if the consultant was not provided with a key piece of information, you may add into your system the requirements for a shared log of required information that is updated by the project manager as information is provided. If not following the system was the root cause of the problem you need to consider why the system was not followed and consider personnel improvements or perhaps making the system less onerous to follow. It is easy to be too busy to complete a PIR but remember they are an essential tool to do the project better next time.

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Judy Quinn

Current PM with 5+ yrs experience. Technical Engineering Background. Stakeholder Engagement Skills.