Hindsight is 20/20: 6 Reasons to Reflect with Postmortems

Sometimes a project is hard - the deadline is tight, the budget is limited and the goals are extreme. We at The Buddy Group thrive on working together to make sure these demanding projects are a success.

And so, when a challenging project is completed, team members could be forgiven for the following two reactions:

  1. So, when’s the launch party?!

  2. And what’s the next project?!

But for us at The Buddy Group there’s one more important process at completion - the Project Postmortem.

The Postmortem is a way of collectively assessing how a project went and then using that assessment to help in our ultimate goal of continuous improvement.

Here are six reasons why the Project Postmortem is a crucial step to our production process:

1) Celebrate Your Successes

If we did something good let’s keep doing it! Sounds obvious I know but without this vital step these successes would be quickly forgotten or not shared with other teams. Successes are recorded in the Postmortem notes for future reference and positive learnings are incorporated into our day-to-day project processes.

2) Learn From Your Failures

No project is perfect and so mistakes or problems should be revisited at the end. Importantly, this Postmortem is never a blame game but rather an opportunity to learn and improve.

“Don’t look where you fall, but where you slipped” – African proverb

Rather than focusing on the failures themselves we look to the cause of any failures and then refine our processes to prevent them from happening again.

3) Estimating Future Projects

Estimating work/time/cost is a big part of our planning phases for new projects.  The Postmortem allows us to reanalyze the numbers afresh to see how efficient our original estimates were. When it comes to planning new, similar projects in the future we can look back at this historic data to ensure even greater budgeting accuracy.

4) Team Kudos and Recognition

Sometimes everyone is too busy getting work done and being the smart, passionate people they are to stop and praise their fellow team members.

“None of us is as smart as all of us” - Ken Blanchard

The Postmortem gives the team a forum to give the all-important team recognition where due and call out individual contributions to the project’s successes.

5)  Team Venting - Everyone Has Their Say

Okay, the Postmortem isn’t a therapy session, but it’s certainly an important opportunity for team members to get things off their chest!  Projects can be stressful as well as fulfilling and we’re firm believers in letting everyone vent, offload, and have their say; to address any elephants in the room.  Once that’s done, we can all gear up for the next challenge together!

6)  A Collaborative Action Plan

The Postmortem is more than just an offering of hindsight, opinions and stats - it’s a proactive action plan.  In striving for continuous improvement and efficiency, the Postmortem outputs a collaborative plan of specifics to address and incorporate going forward.  That way we ensure our teams have the best processes to work in so they can concentrate on exploring what’s possible, not what’s expected.

What’s your experience in ensuring the learnings from completed projects are analyzed and recorded?  Let us know in the comment section!


by David Ferguson
Meet David

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