Tip of the Week #69
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"Lessons Learned Through Process Thinking and Review"
by George Pitagorsky, 2000, PM Network, Project Management Institute, March,
The most important step to improve the quality of decision making is the
Post-Implementation Review (PIR). This is also called, variously, post-mortem,
post-audit, post-evaluation, and look-back
analysis. Whatever it is called, this is Step 10 in the 10-step decision
analysis process that I advocate.
Mr. Pitagorsky's article provides excellent advice, aimed at project management
professionals. I read it thinking primarily about project evaluations and forecasts.
The PIR is assisted by a facilitator and a scribe.
The facilitator is best an objective person coming from outside the project team.
He or she should be "compassionately ruthless" as well as having project
management, content area, and facilitation skills.
The scribe's job is to document the review:
[I've modified Pitagorsky's list.]
- Identify attendees and interviewees.
- Use a checklist to address: Scope definition, estimation and scheduling;
project procedures; relationships; vendor and subcontractor performance.
- Review project files to identify metrics and issues.
- Interview key players to identify problems and best practices.
- Document and support the PIR sessions.
- Publish and distribute the results.
Barriers to Process Review and How to Overcome Them
[Again, I've embellished.]
- Lack of awareness. Process improvement comes from feedback. The PIR
highlights and captures lessons learned.
- Not recording relevant events. Effective PIRs require having the project planning
and execution processes capture relevant information.
- Insufficient time. People are so busy doing that
they don't have time to evaluate the effectiveness of the way they do their work. Take
time to "sharpen the saw." Process reviews can be performed (a) at project
milestones or decision points at significant events, (b) upon completion, and (c) several
weeks or months later when most of the uncertainties have been resolved.
- Blaming. The PIR is not a search of the guilty, and it is ineffective in a
culture where people are punished for poor outcomes. Invite only project team
members, facilitator and scribe to the PIR sessions. The project team can decide
what information from the PIR to make available to others. The objective is learning
and sharing new knowledge.
- Not knowing how. Look for good examples of project documentation in the
library. I recommend binding several good examples of decision analyses, project
plans, and PIRs. Bring in experienced PIR facilitators and scribes.
"Either learn from history or relive it."
John Schuyler, April 2000.
Copyright © 2000 by John R. Schuyler. All rights reserved. Permission to copy with
reproduction of this notice.