Project Management

Building a Better Post-Process

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

The more I read about performing project post-implementation reviews/evaluations/post-mortems (PIR), the more I get the feeling that, while well intended, they miss the mark. While most all the literature agrees that the purpose of the PIR is to learn from mistakes and improve future project efforts, there seems to be a wide variation as to the process itself. This could stem from the lack of a more focused and structured set of outcomes to be evaluated. Thus, many PIRs are much more a reflection process than one that delivers a basis upon which future success can be built.
Given this apparent gap between intention and outcome, I felt compelled to weigh in on the subject and offer an approach that answers the following four major questions:
  1. Did the project achieve the intended objectives?
  2. Was the project conducted in accordance with established standards?
  3. Were the objectives achieved worth the effort?
  4. Did the stakeholders find the process palatable and painless?
Answering these questions reveals a complete view of the project’s successes or failures from an outcome and process perspective. In essence, the PIR is hoping to understand whether the project delivered the value promised in a way that was socially and economically acceptable--and the value worth the effort. The remainder of this …

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- Oscar Wilde