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10 Questions for Effective Retrospectives/Post Implementation Reviews

10 Questions for Effective Retrospectives/Post Implementation Reviews
By Zenkara

If you run retrospectives and don’t find them valuable, then read on…

Any organization that has existed for more than a few years will have run a number of projects and (hopefully) retrospectives/post implementation reviews. The effectiveness of these activities tend to flatline after a while. How can you measure their usefulness? How can you get more value from them?

Ask yourself the following:

  1. Are retrospectives normally conducted? Or are they reserved for projects that fail badly?
  2. Is the purpose of each retrospective known? Or are they perceived very differently between stakeholders?

  3. What result do they bring about? Is this in line with the established purpose(s)?

  4. Do the same issues get raised again and again?

  5. Are most of the suggestions from one person? Do the suggestions come from everyone or just management?

  6. Are the issues and hence positive and negative issues addressed in actions?

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Training for Project Closure

Training for Project Closure
By Andrea Brockmeier

Closing out a calendar year brings to mind the challenges of closing out projects. But unlike a calendar year, the close of a project only happens with intention. All too often, it doesn’t happen at all.

The benefits of conducting some kind of formal project closure are many, including a sense of accomplishment among project participants which improves productivity, organizational recognition of the value of the investment, and contributions to the corporate memory that serve as a resource for future projects. Project closure is not just a good idea, it’s of value to the organization.

My top tips for closing projects came from personal experience training for my first triathlon. My biggest concern going into the race was how I was going to hold up toward the end. Running is the last of the three events, and the one about which I was least confident. Read the Complete Article

Project Management: Post Mort It!

Project Management: Post Mort It!
By Project Manage This

You just spent months, you don’t even remember how many any more, 120% invested in your project. When you weren’t working on it, you were dreaming about it. There was food somewhere in there, you’re pretty sure of it. And then it shipped. Champagne was consumed, cheers all around, and blurry eyed team members embraced. Wow, we did it! You knew all along you would, but there were moments when it just didn’t feel like it would happen. Congratulations!

Okay, now what? To start with:

  • Breath, deep breath. There you go.
  • If you haven’t already scheduled a vacation, even a brief one. Do it now, your next project is sneaking up and fast.

  • Catch up with friends & family; they miss you. They may even think you’ve forgotten them. Yes, this really should be #1, but breathing is important, and you could miss that awesome vacation deal if you don’t check flights and quick (we are planners after all).

Read the Complete Article

An All Purpose Checklist for Project Closure

An All Purpose Checklist for Project Closure
Kevin Sequeira

You’ve reached that point in the project where you stand at deployment and you are ready to shake hands with the project customer and move on to your next assignment. Do you just flip the switch, wave goodbye and ride off into the sunset? Is your job complete? How do you know…what is your yardstick for saying, “that’s it, we’re done here!”?

From my project experience there are some key steps and critical things to check on as the project is deploying so as to ensure that the engagement is over and the solution is ready for the project customer. I’d like I present what I consider to be a reasonable ‘general’ checklist for use at project close out to ensure you’ve dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s before moving on to your next project.

  • Are all deliverables delivered?

    Review the project schedule closely.

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5 Ways to End Projects Well

5 Ways to End Projects Well
By Kathleen Welton

There is an end to everything, to good things as well. – Geoffrey Chaucer, English poet

Projects do indeed end and the key is to have them end well. After all, according to the Project Management Institute, “A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.”

So how can you plan for your project to end well vs. well…just end?

Here are some steps to take and questions to ask for a smooth takeoff and landing:

  • Step 1: What’s done is “done.”

    Set the parameters for the how the project will be measured as “done” at the beginning. Envision what the finished product looks like. Complete the project in a step-by-step fashion and gain agreement and acceptance on each step. This will help ensure that all parties are progressing against the plan in a positive fashion.

Read the Complete Article

Project Closure and Analysis

Project Closure and Analysis
By Marc Lane

Allen and Hardin (2008) note that there is a temptation for a project team to celebrate the conclusion of a project without adequate reflection on its strengths and weaknesses. This was the case with a project my eight-grade team recently completed. Specifically, we failed to record our conclusions in “lessons learned” file as recommended by Allen and Hardin (2008). The idea of conducting a Project “Post Mortem” is a well-known concept throughout project management, and conducting a Project “Post Mortem” can be of great benefit to the project manager and company.

A good “Post Mortem” should evaluate all phases of a project and the aspects that contributed positively as well as those that had a negative impact on the project (Greer, 2010). Those of you who have read my post for a while might be wondering what all this talk about project management is about, since my main role in life is to annoy (teach) children (both my own and others.) It’s a pretty good gig, if you can get it. Read the Complete Article

Increasing Project Knowledge Retention and Transfer of Best Practices

Increasing Project Knowledge Retention and Transfer of Best Practices
By Michael Stanleigh

Individuals within an organization move from one project to another, repeating the same mistakes, managing through similar crises, despairing over under-performing team members, etc. And they repeat this cycle over and over again. The knowledge from one project is not formerly captured. And others at best, informally learn about what made one project successful and another unsuccessful. The research of Project Management Offices conducted by Business Improvement Architects of over 750 global organizations confirms this finding. This comprehensive study indicated that while two-thirds of Project Management Office respondents are responsible for archiving documentation, it is surprising at how few organizations actually capture and retain project knowledge.

Archiving documentation at the completion of a project is the primary method of knowledge retention and transfer. There is an opportunity for more active approaches to ensure knowledge transfer such as Knowledge Management Systems and Knowledge Sharing Sessions. Read the Complete Article

The Project is Done – Now What?

The Project is Done – Now What?
By James M Shaffer

It has been 18 long months since this project started, and now it is done with just a few small details waiting to close out. There is only one remaining question, now what?

There is one thing that I’d like to focus on for this post, the closing meeting.

After so many days and weeks and months on this project, it seemed anti-climatic to just end the project by simply stopping work. Besides, I would not be doing my part to really wrap it up the right way. So, I invited all 25 team members and other stakeholders to a long, but not grueling, meeting to finish things up. The agenda looked like this:

  • Welcome
  • Project Overview (we also had a pot-luck to break it up a little during this time)
  • Accomplishments (including value adds)
  • Lessons Learned
  • Awards
  • Final Thanks

Now this meeting lasted all morning, but after 18 months, 3 more hours was not going to hurt anyone and produced a great pay-off. Read the Complete Article

How to Hand Off a Project Successfully

How to Hand Off a Project Successfully
By Ben Ferris

So, you made it to the end of the project at last. Hopefully you can look back with a lot of satisfaction at how you overcame a lot of obstacles and got your team to pull together even when they weren’t sure how it was all going to end up.

You aren’t going to ruin all the hard work at this late stage by not thinking through the hand off properly, are you?

Picture the End Product

How exactly do you see the future for your new process or system? You may have been immersed in it for so long that you have forgotten to view it in this way. It is important that you give this some thought, as the business stakeholders you will be handing it over to may have some last minute questions in this respect. Near the end of the project lifecycle you should start seeing things from the end user’s point of view if you haven’t been doing so already. Read the Complete Article

Keys To Successful Postmortems – Part I: Setting Up the Meeting

Keys To Successful Postmortems – Part I: Setting Up the Meeting
By Mark Calabrese

Part of closing out any project, outage, service restoration team effort or any initiative whether successful or otherwise (and it’s even more critical on the “or otherwise”) is the postmortem. Too often, this milestone in the ‘Closing’ phase of a project is either ignored or not fully exploited. I’d like to share some guidelines on conducting a successful postmortem that net useable results.

Note that the guidelines below are not meant to be all-inclusive. Use your judgement on what to add, modify or ignore. In Part I, we’ll focus on the meeting itself (timing, participants, etc.):

  • Setting Expectations: Make it known either at the start of a project, early in the SRT (service restoration team) effort during an outage or just as a general principle of your management style that you will hold a postmortem after project or issue closure.
Read the Complete Article

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