A post mortem meeting is a process that is carried out at the end of a project to determine which parts of the project were successful and which were not. The project post-mortems are aimed to inform process optimization, mitigate risks involved, and promote best iterative practices. The end of a project is a great time. However, before finally celebrating it, you need to make a proper analysis of the project to determine the factors that can help you make future projects more efficient. A post mortem meeting can help you to get this task accomplished. Learn more.
How to prepare a project post-mortem meeting?
A post-mortem meeting can be conducted in a variety of ways, and a few of them are discussed below. However, as you might have already learned, it’s critical to have a plan in place for how you’ll handle the meeting before you begin. Yes, informal meetings are excellent for figuring out problems. However, in order to get the most out of your already limited time, a post-mortem should be more coordinated.
Organize your post-mortem agenda
Make sure you’ve figured out the most critical talking points before going into a post-mortem meeting. If you want to harvest the maximum out of your time, start by gathering feedback from your team and then plan your post mortem meeting agenda.
Furthermore, you should discuss “what worked” and “what did not work” with your team in your post-mortem meeting agenda. Maintaining a high-level conversation would encourage feedback and points of view on a range of topics.
The best way to keep your agenda on track is to easily overcome discussion points by assigning the next move. Further debate, a new design, or a new strategy for your business may be the next steps. Taking notes will assist you in going over all of the agenda items and following upon them.
Do some prep work with your team.
Post-mortem prep option 1: Pre-meeting gathering
Sit down against a whiteboard for a 15-minute session and clearly ask the team to list “what worked” and “what didn’t work.” Allow everyone in the room to reply, and then write down all of the responses on a whiteboard. This post mortem meeting must be brief and to the point, so just make a list of things. Don’t get involved in debates; you can save that for later.
Post-mortem prep option 2: Pre-meeting survey
If your team’s time is limited, save the real conversation for the meeting itself and give them a quick survey in advance. It will provide you with everyone’s talking points ahead of time, allowing you to have a productive conversation.
When you use a survey, you run the risk of your team being too busy to complete it. So, if you go this path, be prepared to track down answers. Alternatively, keep the survey short and precise.
Easy questions like “what worked” and “what didn’t work” may be used as examples. You can also take it a step further by asking your team to rate overall team success on a scale of 1 to 10, as seen in this project post-mortem survey example.
Identify project wins and issues.
You can use baselines to take a short snapshot of a project at any point in time. Setting a baseline at the start of a project is recommended because you have a clear record of where the plan began and can monitor changes against it.
Baselines are an excellent way to identify topics for debate in your post mortem meeting. Look for projects that were late or ahead of schedule so you can discuss the reasons with your team and learn from your project’s past.
In most cases, trends will appear during the first post mortem meeting or survey. Take those trends and turn them into a clear presentation to guide the discussion at the post-mortem conference. Create slides that describe the overall problem and, where appropriate, include relevant remarks from your team—having certain specifics on hand helps the team remember what was said and sparks discussion. It’s critical to note that the slides aren’t the most essential part of the presentation; the talking points are. So, if making slides seems like overkill, take notes instead.
How to moderate the post-mortem meeting?
If you follow this procedure, you will have completed all of your hard work before entering the post-mortem conference. You’ve identified the issues and whittled down the discussion to around an hour or 90 minutes of content. Remember to keep this meeting on track by adhering to these basic guidelines.
8 ground rules for project post-mortem meetings
Before you get started, keep in mind that these meetings are intended to freely address problems without creating a hostile work atmosphere. There’s a fine line between talking about problems and whining about them. You must speak frankly and honestly (not negatively) about how you can strengthen the method and, as a result, your work in order to make some progress. To make sure this happens, discuss and define some basic ground rules for the post mortem meeting:
1: Bring in a facilitator to guide the meeting.
This does not have to be you as the project manager. You could attend the meeting if you were a member of the project team. Facilitate a team effort if you can’t find anyone to fill this position in the meeting.
2: Keep it light.
It is important to ensure that the session should be fun. Move it further by elaborating on the positives and celebrating your victories.
3: Be constructive, not destructive.
Highlight the major shortcomings, and focus on the solution. To do so, you need to identify where the process works and where it breaks down.
4: Don’t get personal.
It’s not about assigning blame or pointing fingers. Keep it high-level because you’re there to address problems and find solutions. If there was an issue with a specific employee, it should have been addressed with the employee’s boss.
5: Cover all of your bases.
Figure out what made the project simple, difficult, enjoyable, or miserable. It can help you focus on the major shortcomings of the project to avoid them in the future. Besides, you should also know the strong points on the project that can reduce your time and efforts and make the execution smooth.
6: Be respectful of one another’s point of view.
At this conference, everybody is on an equal footing. That is to say, no one should have a monopoly on the conversation. Allow each team member to share their point of view.
7: Take notes.
It’s not so much about capturing every detail as it is about capturing the problem, the solution, action items, and who owns which line item. You would also want to keep track of new ideas so that your team has a process change roadmap.
8: Abide by the meeting goal.
Make a point of leaving with a list of action items and their respective owners. Often, ensure that the post mortem meeting is a secure environment where the team can express their true feelings without being judged. Ensure that everybody understands the purpose of the meeting: to leave with strong takeaways that can be applied to future ventures. To get what you need, you must keep your intent at the forefront of this operation.
This post offers all the important tips required to make a post mortem meeting successful and effective. It described the comprehensive steps needed to plan and execute a project analysis meeting after its completion. To get more insightful and intuitive posts, visit our blog section.