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12 Tips for Effective Project Reviews
By Bruno Collet

Too often, project reviews are nothing more than empty conformance documents that take dust on a company server, when they are not skipped entirely. That’s a shame, because project reviews are one of the most powerful tools for improvement. The main reasons people neglect project reviews are that “nobody reads them” and that “we got assigned to another project right away”.

How can we design a project review process that entices the organization into giving it the attention it deserves?

Here are 12 tips for effective project reviewing:

  1. Cost-effective: the expected benefits exceed the effort required to perform the project review;
  2. Applied when it makes sense: make the project review mandatory or optional based on criteria such as level of risk, degree of novelty, and budget;
  3. Organizational asset: store and communicate the project review so that it brings benefits not only to the project team but also to other teams and possibly other parts of the organization; it helps accumulating know-how and improving organization-wide;
  4. Part of the project management process: the project review process is a part of the closing phase; the project is not finished until the project review is done;
  5. Standardized (but flexible): there is a template and a guide to support project managers in writing effective project reviews;
  6. Based on information known to the team: writing the project review doesn’t require the participation of people outside of the project team – no need for research, surveys, or other tedious tasks;
  7. Team participation: the team is involved in the project review process to collect qualitative feedback;
  8. Based on available metrics: writing the project review relies on standard metrics that are located in project management documents accumulated throughout the project;
  9. Comparable: the project review format enables comparing projects results thanks to objective scoring based on standardized metrics;
  10. Action-oriented: the project review proposes an action plan to implement the lessons learned;
  11. Follow-up: someone manages the implementation of the action plan and makes sure that target stakeholders have the opportunity to implement the suggested improvements;
  12. No fault: the project review is not an evaluation of the project manager or of the project team.

Reviews can also be performed during the course of a project, at end of phases or iterations for example, in order to benefit from improvements as soon as possible.

Over time, effective project reviews make the difference between an evolving and a stagnating organization by enabling small and meaningful improvements as well as fostering a culture of excellence.

Bruno Collet combines business acumen with technology know-how. His successful track record comprises Daimler-Chrysler, Siemens, and Loto-Quebec, with roles such as management consultant, project manager, SAP consultant, and software architect. Bruno Collet’s skills are firmly grounded in academic excellence by achieving an MBA at John Molson School of Business and a Master of Computer Science. He maintains a professional website: brunocollet.com.

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