“A project is considered complete when it has been successfully implemented and transitioned to the performing organization and approved by the Project Sponsor. At this point in the project management lifecycle, the responsibilities of the Project Manager are to assess how closely the project met Customer needs, highlight what worked well, learn from mistakes made during the project, identify patterns and trends, derive ways to improve upon processes executed throughout the project, and, most importantly, communicate results.
The purpose of Conduct Post-Implementation Review is to gather the information required to meet those responsibilities, and to present the information in a Post-Implementation Report.” (Source: Cornell University) Many projects skip the Post Implementation Review (PIR) or conduct the customer facing review as part of the final process of acceptance and, if it’s an external customer, getting paid for the work. A lot of the time this is because the project team are pressed for time, and also because all of the relevant information is fresh in everyone’s minds and available, through the team, to anyone who requires it. There is, however, also a need to conduct an internally facing review to make sure that the organisation is able to compare which projects worked well and which did not – this allows for better planning of future projects and can be a key tool to use for optimisation of your delivery processes.
Even better is the use of a PIR scorecard on a regular basis, driven by the business as usual reporting process as part of stage or gateway reviews, so that the Project Manager and stakeholders are able to get an earlier feel for projects which need assistance or intervention.
Structuring and formalising the data collection and analysis process brings 5 key benefits:
- If conducted throughout the project lifecycle it supports quality control and continuous initiatives
- Stakeholders have a consistent view across all of the organisation’s projects and can make meaningful comparisons
- The PIR meeting(s) become a true review where final lessons can be discussed and recorded rather than a data capture exercise
- Data captured can be used to streamline audits and assist the GRC (Governance, Risk & Compliance) functions of the business
- After the project has been closed, and people moved to other roles, the knowledge of what happened, why it happened, the problems encountered and lessons learnt are available for reference when considering similar projects in the future.
The last point is worth further emphasis: as many organisations move to using contract staff or external delivery partners for key project roles it must be borne in mind that when the contractor leaves at the end of his/her engagement or the external partner closes out the deliver key knowledge is lost to your organisation unless steps have been taken to capture and retain it!