RTConfidence, Inc.

12. Project Postmortems close the loop on Holistic Risk Management.

Obviously, a project postmortem will not improve the project that just ended, but it can certainly improve performance of future projects within that organization, if conducted with integrity.  Most progressive organizations tend to want the team to wrap up the project with a retrospective assessment of what caused the good and poor outcomes.  The easiest (i.e., most uncontroversial) assessments are those which relate to only the technical issues encountered (e.g., test failures, scope omissions, resource shortcomings, etc.).  These typically lead to systemic improvements to the product development process, and most of them were likely to have been acted upon at the time the issues surfaced.  The harder (i.e., most controversial and politically sensitive) assessments relate to managerial and organizational missteps, but this category of assessment is extremely valuable relative to the pursuit of project management “best practices”.  The team and performing organization management may be tempted to leave out certain incriminating or embarrassing issues, especially if no specific guidelines for addressing all potential causes of unsuccessful project execution are established for the postmortem processes undertaken.  In my book “Project Risk Management: A Practical Implementation Approach” I offer up some practical solutions to these types of issues.  I also present an “Assessment Instrument” for conducting postmortem assessments for single projects or for several similar types of projects.  These assessments have proven to lead to significant improvements in actual organizations.  Such an approach can be of great benefit to companies dedicated to “doing more with less” in a serious attempt to bolster their competitive position within the markets they serve.  Please check out the 100Q – it might be a good approach for your organization.