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How to Prepare for the Post-Project Evaluation

Successful project managers lay the groundwork for repeating on future projects what worked on past ones (and avoiding what didn’t) by conducting a post-project evaluation. A post-project evaluation (also called a post-project review or lessons learned) is an assessment of project results, activities, and processes that allows you to

  • Recognize project achievements and acknowledge people’s work.

  • Identify techniques and approaches that worked, and devise steps to ensure they’re used in the future.

  • Identify techniques and approaches that didn’t work, and devise steps to ensure they aren’t used again in the future.

A project postmortem is another term for post-project evaluation.

Take steps in each stage of your project’s evolution (starting the project, organizing and preparing, carrying out the work, and closing the project) to lay the groundwork for your post-project evaluation (see Chapter 1 for more on the four states of a project):

  • Starting the project:

    • Determine the benefits your project’s drivers wanted to realize when they authorized your project.

    • If your project is designed to change an existing situation, take before measures to describe the existing situation so that you have something to compare to the after measures you take when the project is completed.

  • Organizing and preparing:

    • Identify additional project drivers you may have overlooked in the first stage of your project. Your project drivers’ expectations serve as the criteria for defining your project’s success, so you want to know who they all are before you begin your project’s work.

    • Develop clear and detailed descriptions of all project objectives.

    • Include the activity Conduct a post-project evaluation in your Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and allow time and resources to perform it. (

  • Carrying out the work:

    • Tell team members that the project will have a post-project evaluation.

    • Encourage team members to record issues, problems, and successes throughout their project involvement in a handwritten or computerized project log. Review the log when proposing topics for discussion at the post-project evaluation meeting.

    • Maintain files of cost, labor-hour charges, and schedule performance reports throughout the project.

  • Closing the project:

    • If changing an existing situation was a project objective, take after measures of that situation’s key characteristics to see whether you successfully met that objective.

    • Obtain final cost, labor-hour, and schedule performance reports for the project.

    • Survey key stakeholders to determine how well they feel the project addressed their needs and their assessments of project team and project manager performance.

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