Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Value of Project Closure: Continous Improvement

One of the most over looked and skipped processes in project management is the closure processes of lessons learned and post project review.  Although well documented in the PMBOK,  it is overlooked in practice.  Sure, we obtain sponsor sign off and in turn we sign off on the invoices and pay all the vendors.  But how often do you perform a "lessons learned" let alone a formal "post project review"?

It is all in the planning.  If a project manager does their job well, they can go on vacation when execution starts, because they will have planned the project perfectly.  Everybody will know exactly what needs to be done and will step in and perform on queue.

In the real world, if this was as simple as it seems and everybody knew everything that the project would entail, they wouldn't need project managers.  The reality is, there are a lot of unknowns in projects.  We have to manage those unknowns.   But by using our project management processes we can reduce the project risks and implement continuous improvement.  

Lessons Learned

This is most commonly missed, but I do feel the most important for continuous improvement.  Many organizations skip this because once the project is complete, they don't have the time and are on to the next project.   The value of lessons learned is very valuable for continuous improvement and overall reduction of future project costs.  For those of you familiar with LEAN this is a major LEAN concept.

The PM should go through the project issue log and the change log.  Find the ones that caused problems and what can be done to prevent them in the future.   Be sure to include any lessons in communications, risk planning, assumptions, HR, scope, budgets, quality and timing so you can avoid those issues the next time around. 

Post Project Review

The lessons learned  be fed into the Post Project Review.  The other major component for the post project review should be the metrics.  Is the delivered system or component, performing and delivering as expected?  Is it achieving the ROI?  Is is meeting the metrics that were established in the scope?  This is critical to understanding that the criteria used to justify the project was valid to begin with.  If it isn't, why not?  Does it need to be adjusted for any future projects, more continuous improvement. 

The Post Project Review should be performed as with the initiation process with all the stakeholders and even other project managers so the lessons can be shared. The best lessons I have learned all get fed right back into improving the planning, execution and control processes, with major emphasis on the planning.

Net Net

Use the lessons learned to improve the quality of plans on your future projects.  The better your planning the smoother the project goes.  So the more you can improve the quality of your project plans, the more likely you are to be successful.

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts on this.

Armada Business Consulting, Inc.

Do you or your organization need help with project closure?  Or need help getting from strategy to execution?  I can help.  For more information contact Trish at

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