In my almost 15 years of development, I've found little more beneficial than a well run Post-Implementation Review meeting. I find them a great to way to learn, improve and ensure that the next project goes more smoothly than the one before.

What is a Post-Implementation/Post-Project Review?

It is a meeting held at the end of a project at which people who have contributed to the project as a whole get an opportunity to discuss the highs and lows of the project.

My preparation normally involves thinking back over the course of the project and thinking about:

  • what went well?
  • what didn't go so well?
  • what we could do better next time and what lessons we can learn
  • How well the project was analysed and specified
  • how well the project was managed
  • how well the testing phase went - bugs found in testing vs UAT vs post-live
  • how well the handover to support went
  • how well the original time estimates reflected reality
  • how well specified the infrastructure was - were the original estimates on page impressions etc valid

The most recent one I attended was run in the order of the project, so feedback was made first against the Sales process, then the Analysis process etc. This worked pretty well, but did mean that the last few stages of the project were rushed to ensure that the meeting finished on time. Alternatives include asking the "What went well?", "What didn't go well?" questions of every person in the room. This ensures that everyone gets their say but does involve preparation on behalf of every attendee (no bad thing).

Who should be there?

For me, the ideal meeting should include everyone who has been involved with the project, from start to finish - in some cases this could be a lot of people but every function should be represented - so definitely Sales, Analysts, Project Managers, Developers, Support and Systems. Every person should have an equal opportunity to speak.

When should it happen?

Usually, after the project has gone live and been handed over into a support phase. In some cases a project can last too long, and if the project is scheduled to take more than 6 months, its probably worth having 6 monthly review meetings to ensure that key learnings aren't forgotten, or that subsequent projects can learn and improve quickly. These shouldn't replace the Post Implementation Review but should supplement it.

What should happen afterwards?

The final part of the meeting should be a quick review of the "What went well?" items, and of the "Key learnings". Someone should be tasked with producing a document which should then be circulated outlining the key learnings from the project, and also the highs - the lows should be kept within the team and learnt from but not circulated - it shouldn't be a shaming exercise but should be a great motivator. Any individuals charged with process review, or implementing changes to current/ongoing projects should be informed of the key learnings to ensure these learnings are escalated and implemented as quickly as possible.