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Module 8: Project Closeout

3.2 Types and timing of project reviews

The project closeout review is part of the project closeout process. It is much easier to conduct a good project closeout review (post mortem) when the whole project has been planned and executed well from start to end, with regular progress reviews having taken place, with recorded actions and responsibilities for actions assigned, throughout the project. The frequency of progress reviews should, as a guide, be for:

  • A 6-month project – weekly
  • A 12-month project - fortnightly
  • A 2-year project – monthly.

Each meeting should have an agenda, purpose and recorded actions with assigned responsibility.

  • A weekly meeting might only require 30 minutes most of the time, with longer meetings scheduled at specific decision-making points in the project
  • A monthly meeting on a 2-year project might be a couple of hours, again with longer meetings scheduled at more critical decision-making points of the project

The duration and timing of meetings needs to be agreed in the planning phase stage of project development.

In terms of content, given the post-project review requirements, it is important that:

  • Evidence as to project effectiveness in delivering the technical outcomes required is collected throughout the course of the project so that corrective action can be taken
  • Individual and team performance is monitored and managed throughout the course of the project. The post-project performance review is not the time or place for a team member to find out that their performance was considered unsatisfactory

3.3.1 Additional project reviews

Additional project effectiveness reviews and evaluation can take place at a number of trigger points in the lifecycle of the project including:

  1. Incident reviews: Triggered by something not going according to plan, this is a short review (usually less than 2 hours) and covers:
    • What was supposed to happen?
    • What actually happened?
    • Why were there differences?
    • What can you or others learn from this experience?
    • How does the plan need to change to reflect the incident and what other impacts will there be?
  2. Significant milestone review: Often triggered by a funding requirement which is either time or deliverable based, this review (usually less than 4 hours) covers:
    • What went well or not?
    • Why did it succeed or not?
    • If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
    • What did you learn that is specific to this project?
    • What could others learn from your experience?
    • What needs to happen next, particularly if the decision is to stop the project?
  3. Post-project review: Triggered by the end of the project and is usually done as a team review (usually less than 8 hours) that covers:
    • What were the key objectives of the project and how well were these achieved?
    • How will the project results be utilised?
    • What lessons were learned during the course of the project?
    • What lessons are the most important?
    • How should future efforts be modified based on lessons learned?

The post-project review takes place when the project is finished and should integrate the information from any incident or significant milestone reviews that have taken place during the project. There should be no surprises.

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