After completing our blog series that discussed project management governance, I was asked to describe in more detail how to determine the outcomes and success of a project. For this, the process used is a Post Implementation Review (PIR).
Does failure have to be a part of project management?
Here’s a few surprising facts concerning project management performance:
- Three quarters of business executives think that software projects will fail (Gallup)
- Only two thirds of projects are completed on time and within budget (Standish Group)
- Almost 100% of organisations think that project management is critical to success (PwC)
- Less than half of all organisations provide project management training (PM Solutions)
I would argue that the first two project management failings are directly derived from the last two findings. In this regard, the PIR provides an exceptional opportunity – if conducted effectively – to complete these essential tasks of project management:
- Determine how the project has performed against its objectives
- Identify lessons learned
- Ensure maximum benefits are achieved
- Apply lessons learned to future projects
The PIR is, therefore, an integral part of project management, and should be completed shortly after the project has been delivered but also at a time when the changes that the project has produced have taken effect.
What to review in the PIR
There are a number of elements that must be reviewed. These concern project outcomes, and can be best tackled by answering a range of questions including:
- How close did the project outcomes meet the project objectives?
- Have deliverables been delivered to an acceptable level of quality?
- How could gaps in deliverables and objectives be resolved?
- Are deliverables functioning as expected?
- Can functionalities be extended?
- What training has been provided to users, and is this enough?
- Are the project deliverables supported by necessary controls and systems?
- How will identified problems be addressed?
- Have quality, budget, and time targets been met?
- How does the ROI compare with expected?
- What extra effort is needed to achieve the original objectives?
- Are all assessment metrics relevant?
- What are the lessons learned?
- How will these lessons be carried forward to future projects?
4 tips for effective PIR
When conducting the PIR, here are five tips to ensure that your review is effective:
1. Be open and objective
Ask for and give honest feedback, which must be objective and not subjective. This will help focus on areas that can be improved.
2. Note positives as well as negatives
Don’t only look for negatives, document what was done well too. Positives should be carried forward from one project to the next.
3. Take your new knowledge forward
During the project there will have been events and occurrences that were not previously anticipated. Understanding these and learning to look for them in the future should be key learnings.
4. Remember the PIR is also about the future
What’s done is done! Focus on how the next project can be executed more effectively rather than assigning blame for shortcomings in the project under review.
In part 2 of “The When, What, and How of a Post Implementation Review”, we’ll look at how to carry out a PIR.