Once a project is complete, take some time to review what was successful and what needs improvement. By evaluating each project in retrospect, you’ll be able to apply the lessons learned to future endeavors.
Good communication provides team members, stakeholders and end users with information that is clear, concise, relevant and timely. Using these 4 criteria, evaluate e-mails, memos and other communications that were circulated in support of your project. Confirm your team is using descriptive subject lines; that communications were sent at the right time; and that your distribution lists were inclusive without unnecessarily flooding anyone’s inbox.
Projects not only generate new documentation, they also rely heavily on existing material. If your project management consulting team scrambled to locate documents mid-project, plan to secure access to existing documentation earlier next time. Materials normally stored offsite should be moved to a convenient location onsite, with a team member responsible for re-archival at the end of the project.
Ask your team if they had difficulty acquiring signatures or approvals when needed, and if they felt the difficulty was a result of issues with documentation, corporate policy or something else. Work with your team to streamline the approval process.
A multitude of factors contribute to project delays, including some that may be outside your control. Survey your team to determine what caused any hurdles during the last project, and create workarounds or alternate plans to eliminate those obstacles. Ensure the team is informed of potential delays as soon as possible, and update your communication plan to quickly disseminate schedule changes to the right people.
Gleaning feedback from users and project management team members can be instrumental in improving the next project. Provide users with a survey or otherwise solicit feedback, and carefully evaluate the responses. User concerns should first be addressed within the project team, to determine if feedback relates to systemic issues within the organization, or to the team’s actions directly. Bring systemic issues to the attention of your management team or the client, and work with them to formulate resolutions that meet everyone’s needs. If an issue can be fixed within your project management team, talk with team members candidly about what went wrong, and the steps to eliminate the problem in future projects.
It may also be necessary to evaluate the level of user satisfaction and determine if the project scope was simply unable to meet the needs due to budget limitations, corporate policy, resource availability or other issues. By referencing this information prior to setting user expectations, you’ll help give your next project the best chance for success.
Use Success to Your Advantage
Positive feedback and the achievement of goals are powerful tools for improving your next project. Take the time to identify the portions of the project that went well, and apply that successful project management methodology to areas that are under-performing. Continuously evolve your processes and techniques to build on past successes. Each project will teach you something new – it’s up to you to leverage that information to your advantage.