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Module 8: Project Closeout

Topic 3: Project review and evaluation

It is important to review all projects (to varying degrees, depending on size, value, strategic importance and other considerations as appropriate), including those that have been successful as well as those that are perceived as not:

  • Successful projects provide the information to inform what needs to be done again (or done more often)
  • Unsuccessful projects provide the information to inform what should not be done again (or done less often)

However, reviewing successful and unsuccessful projects only has value as long as the systems and processes exist whereby the information captured from the review is integrated into operating procedures. A review does not create value unless the recommendations it contains can be actioned and used by others.

This topic is focused on improving understanding of the need for and importance of review and evaluation. In particular it addresses concepts such as project success and criteria for acceptance from different stakeholder and organisation perspectives. It provides some tools and templates for approaches to undertaking a project review as well as ranking recommendations and structuring a post-project review report.

Learning outcomes

After completing this module you should be able to:

  • Describe the process for undertaking a post-project review, including who should be involved and what preparation is required
  • Be able to describe the difference between different types of review and recognise points in a project when additional reviews may be required
  • Be able to integrate recommendations into a structured post-project review report

Topic content

Read the following notes.

3.1 What is a successful project?

3.2 Types and timing of project reviews

3.3 How to do a good post-project review

3.4 The structure of a post-project review report

3.5 Getting students to do a post-project review

Optional activity

Planning a review meeting

Conducting post-project reviews can be something of a balancing act. You want to generate informed, complex understandings of the ways in which, and the reasons for which, a project did or did not succeed. But at the same time you need ideally to distil these understandings into relatively simple, succinct summaries that have as much buy in from the project team as possible, and you need to formulate an optimal set of practical, implementable and – perhaps – politically palatable recommendations.

Download the Post-project Review proforma.  This is similar in form to many such proformas that you will find on the web and in the project management literature; you might compare its content, for example, to the ‘typical post-project review questions’ set out in Table 3.2 (Topic 3.3). This particular proforma is in a fact a public domain document published on the website of an Australian university, at: http://www.projects.uts.edu.au/resources/templates/PostProjectReview.doc

Look over this proforma. Imagine that, as an emerging research leader, you have been called in to facilitate a four hour (9am – 1pm) post-project review meeting in a discipline similar to yours. The project is an industry funded one that had an eighteen-month life span, employed 10 people (half academic, half technical and professional) and utilised a range of specialist computing equipment. The project appears to have been generally successful, but you understand that there were some personal rifts in the project team. Your task, then, is to set up a plan for how you would facilitate the project meeting. How would you structure the morning? What activities would you have the participants undertake? What time will you allocate to each activity? What output will each activity have? What preparation would you ask participants to undertake? What materials do you need to have available at the meeting? How will you ensure that all the required areas have been covered by the end of the session? What steps will you take to address the potential tensions/conflict that might arise?

Prepare a set of notes, dot points etc, in a format and medium that you would be able to refer to in the process of facilitation. You may wish to bring these notes along to the workshop, as they may value add to the discussion.

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