Project Management For Dummies
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As a project manager you will want to run a post-project evaluation meeting. A post-project evaluation is only as good as the results, expenditures, and performance information it’s based on. Before you conduct the meeting, gather your project data; establish a meeting agenda; know which issues to address; and know how to obtain constructive feedback.

Data to gather prior to a post-project evaluation meeting

Prepare for your post-project evaluation meeting by collecting information on the following:

  • Project results

  • Schedule performance

  • Resource expenditures

  • Problems that arose during the project

  • Changes during the project in objectives, schedules, and budgets

  • Unanticipated occurrences or changes in the environment during the project

  • Customers’ satisfaction with the project results

  • Management’s satisfaction with the project results

  • Effectiveness of the project-management processes

  • Lessons learned

Setting an agenda for a post-project evaluation meeting

Prepare a detailed agenda for the post-project evaluation meeting that specifies the times when topic discussions will start and end. Consider including the following topics on your agenda:

  • Statement of the meeting’s purpose

  • Specific meeting outcomes to be accomplished

  • Highlights of project performance, including the following:

    • Results, schedules, and resources

    • Approaches to project planning

    • Project-tracking systems and procedures

    • Project communications

    • Project team practices and effectiveness

  • Recognition and discussion of special achievements

  • Review of customer and management reactions to the project

  • Discussion of problems and issues

  • Discussion of how to reflect experiences from this project in future efforts

Circulate a draft agenda, related background materials, and a list of attendees to all expected attendees at least one week before the meeting. This advance notice gives people time to suggest additions, deletions, and changes to the agenda. Revise the agenda to address these suggestions, and distribute the final agenda to all meeting participants at least one day before the meeting.

Issues to address at a post-project evaluation meeting

A successful post-project evaluation meeting (which you can hold in person, via video conference, or through most other meeting methods) requires that you address the right topics and that people share their project thoughts and experiences openly and honestly.

At the post-project evaluation meeting, explore the following issues:

  • Did you accomplish all the project objectives?

  • Did you meet the project schedule?

  • Did you complete the project within budget?

  • With regard to problems during the project

    • Could you have anticipated and planned for them in advance? If so, how?

    • Did you handle them effectively and efficiently when they arose?

  • Did you use the organization’s project-management systems and procedures effectively?

How to get constructive feedback from a post-project evaluation meeting

To ensure you get the most accurate information and the best recommendations for future actions, do the following before and during your post-project evaluation meeting:

  • Invite the right people. Invite all the people who participated in your project at all points throughout its life. If the list of potential invitees is too long, consider meeting separately with select subgroups and then holding a general session at which everyone reviews the results of the smaller meetings and you solicit final comments and suggestions.

  • Declare at the beginning of the meeting that it’s supposed to be a learning experience rather than a finger-pointing session. As the project manager, you run the post-project evaluation meeting. At its outset, you need to declare that the session is a time for self-examination and suggestions for ensuring the success of future projects.

    If people start to attack or criticize other participants, you can immediately bring the discussion back on track by asking the participants the following questions:

    • What can you do in the future to deal more effectively with such situations?

    • What can you do in the future to head off such situations?

  • Encourage people to

    • Identify what other people did well.

    • Examine their own performance and see how they could’ve handled situations differently.

  • Consider holding the session away from your office. People often feel more comfortable critiquing existing practices and discussing new approaches when they’re away from their normal work environments.

Be sure to assign a person to take notes during the post-project evaluation meeting. In addition to a list of attendees and highlights of information, the notes should list all the agreed-on activities to implement the lessons learned from the meeting and the people responsible for those activities.

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