Project Management Guide:

Running a Post Mortem Meeting

Have you recently completed a project and now you don’t know what to do? Maybe you’re thinking about just how to make sure everyone is on the same page about how things went. Or maybe you need to make sure that everyone is aware of what went on during the project. No matter what you’re thinking, the best thing you can do is run a post mortem meeting. It’s going to help everyone to close out the project in the best way possible, and with everyone on the same page.

What is a Post Mortem Meeting?

Let’s start from the top and discuss just what a post mortem meeting is. It’s a gathering of all of the relevant people after you’ve completed a project where you can all evaluate the different aspects of the project. During this type of meeting you’re going to look at what went well as well as what didn’t go so well. You’re going to go over all of the different aspects that you possibly can, to make sure that the things that went well happen next time and the things that didn’t go so well are fixed for next time.

Overall, the goal is to make sure that the next project that you work on, whether with the same people or not, is going to go even better than this one did. But that’s going to require you to put in a bit of effort and it’s going to require you and everyone on the team to work together. You’ve already done a lot of this to make sure that project happened and that you reached a satisfactory result. But now you’re going to have to do it again to get the most out of your post mortem meeting.

What You’ll Get Out of It

So, what are you going to get out of having one of these types of meetings? The truth is that you’re going to get a lot. We’re going to give a brief overview of some of the most important aspects, but you should be looking at many different things that are going to happen when you schedule this meeting. Just make sure you’re talking to as many of the people who were involved in creating the project as you possibly can. That’s how you’re going to get the best feedback.

Improve Your Efficiency – First, you’re going to Improve your ability and your entire teams’ ability to get the job done right the next time. Whether you did everything well this time or you had a few serious hiccups, you’re going to be able to benefit from just talking about the project and each of the different aspects that you had to go through. You’ll be able to make sure that you’re more efficient and more effective when a similar project or even a different project comes up the next time around.

Improve Your Morale – People want to hear when they do a good job. Everyone wants to be appreciated. So, if you can bring everyone together and talk about the big things that people did right (or even the little things they did right) and the ultimate success of the project you’re going to get people happier. Everyone on your team is going to feel better about what was accomplished and they’re going to be happier about getting back out there and doing it all again (which is going to happen at some point, after all).

Improve Your Teamwork – Working together as a team is crucial no matter what it is that your business is working on. You need everyone in the business to be able to work together and communicate and when you can all get together and discuss what’s going on with your project you’re definitely going to help with that. Everyone gets the opportunity to talk about what they thought went well and not-so-well and then they can discuss and help each other out with ideas and thoughts. It helps everyone to understand where each member of the team is coming from on the project.

Improve Your Problem Solving – Whatever mistakes or problems happened during the project you’re going to have a chance to talk them over with the entire group. This can help you to figure out more creative or effective ways of dealing with those problems if and when they happen in the future. Whether you had minor problems or major ones, it’s important to evaluate the things that went wrong and come up with improvements and better opportunities for the future. Because something is always going to go wrong or there’s at least always going to be places where it could be better.

Close it Out – You’re going to be closing out this chapter of your business at this point because you’re finally finished with the project. Everything is done. It’s been handed off to the client and it’s accepted and (hopefully) paid for. That means you don’t ever need to talk about it again once you get all of this information out there. Make sure that you’re discussing everything that needs to be discussed and that once you’re done with this meeting nothing else needs to be talked about. You can now officially move on to the next assignment that needs done.

Communicate Everything – You’ll be able to talk to the people on your team who were involved with the project and you can then share anything important from the meeting with others who weren’t a part of that core team. So, if you had a smaller team working on an assignment you can then communicate any overall objectives, new practices, amended policies and so on with the rest of the company to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on and what needs to be done going forward, which improves your business.

Celebrate The Results – This is a great time to just sit back and celebrate as well. So, once you’ve discussed everything and you’ve hashed out the important details as well as resolving any mistakes or problems, it’s time for you to celebrate. You can have a little time to be glad that you’ve accomplished this project and to be grateful to everyone on your team for everything they’ve put into making it a success. There’s no reason that you need to keep rehashing everything after you’ve been through it once. Thank everyone who was a part of the team for everything that they did.

Preparing for Your Post Mortem Meeting with Instagantt

Maybe now you’re sold on the idea of hosting a post mortem meeting but you’re just not quite sure how to do it. Well, we’re going to help you with that process. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think. You just need to make sure that you have a way of getting the right people together and that you have a good way of organizing your materials. And of course, the best way you can do that is with a Gantt chart. Instagantt can help you along.

When you’re preparing for any type of meeting the best thing you can do is get organized. With Instagantt you can do that easily because our charts will allow you to set up everything that you need. Just like you created your project with a Gantt chart software, you can also set up everything you need for your post mortem meeting in the same way. You set up the team that you want to be a part of it (or add an extension to the project you already have) and then you start assigning out any tasks that need to be done to prepare for the meeting.

If you need someone to take care of gathering specific information or running specific reports you can set everything up in the chart. You get to create a new project if you want, which could be just for your post mortem meeting. You’ll be able to create subtasks, communicate with the different members of the team and more. Not only that but you can create your own system for how the meeting is going to go and send it out to everyone so they know beforehand. All-in-all, having a chart with all the details is going to make things easier on everyone.

Your Next Steps

For yourself, you’re going to want to figure out just what you want to talk about. The different benefits that we talked about above are going to be a good starting place. You know you want to talk about things like what worked, what didn’t work, what could be done better, how you could do things better, who was involved, what accomplishments were made and more. Make sure that you are laying out these different topics and any people that you especially want to mention (for positive reasons) before you start anything else.

You may want to communicate with your team before you host the post mortem meeting. In this communication you can use one of several different methods to get an idea of what your team thought of the process and how the project went. You may think that everything went great or that everything went poorly but your team is going to have differing opinions based on where they were in the process. Some are going to have good things and some will have bad things to say. You want to hear all of the feedback.

You could sit down with everyone for a very short meeting where everyone can list out what went well and what didn’t. keep in mind that the idea here is to create a list and that’s all. Write everything down and then let everyone head out on their way. You’ll discuss each of those topics later. For now, you just want to give everyone a chance to air their initial thoughts and then everyone gets a chance to think about those things until it’s time for the full meeting. You’ll also get a chance to flesh out some of these things.

A survey is another way that you can get information and feedback from the members of your team. All you need to do is create a survey that evaluates what people think went over well and what didn’t. You could ask those same to questions in your survey as you do in a short team meeting or you could decide to send out a survey where everyone gets to rate the experience. You could choose different aspects of the project that everyone has to rate and then work from the results that you get and the feedback.

Running the Post Mortem Meeting

Are you now ready to host your meeting but you want to make sure that you’re doing it properly? You now know how the people on your team feel about what happened. You also know why you need to have one of these meetings and you know just how you can organize it before the meeting even starts. But now it’s time to have the meeting and you might be struggling a bit with the process. You want everything to go well, after all. So, what are you going to do?

The most important thing is to keep the meeting focused on positives. That means you will need to talk about some of the things that went wrong but your goal is not to point fingers or to blame someone for the bad things that went on. Your goal is to make sure that things that didn’t go as well as you wanted them to won’t happen again. Try to avoid casting blame or naming anyone specific who was responsible for those tasks. Instead, just introduce the task and where things could have been done better. You may even be better off introducing each task and asking what could have been done better, even if the task seemed to go well.

Remember that everyone should have an opportunity to talk and you should try to encourage everyone to speak up at least a few times during the process. You want to make sure that everyone is getting their voice heard so that no one walks away feeling like they aren’t important. Every member of your team is important to getting the job done and you’re not going to get it done without them. If they don’t feel important than in the future they may not put in the same level of effort and that could hurt the entire team.

Make sure that everyone is being fully respectful of what’s going on in the meeting. That means that you need to pay attention to what everyone has to say and that you need to be open to listening and receiving that feedback. No matter what people have to say you need to consider it and you need to thank them for their input and their feedback. Never give someone the impression that you’re not listening or that you don’t think that their opinion or feedback is valid or they won’t give it again.

As a project manager you’re also going to want to take notes during this discussion. After all, the feedback that you receive from your team is going to contribute to your potential for success moving forward. If you take down their feedback you’re going to show them that you value their input. You’re also going to be setting yourself up for success on the next project because you’re seeing areas where you could have done better and you’re seeing new opportunities and ideas for how to do better as well.

When to Have Post Mortem Meeting

Not sure just when you should have one of these meetings? Well, you should be having one as soon as you and your team have finished up a project. Now, if you’re completing a project that took a single day and two people to complete you may not need a post mortem meeting or the meeting might consist of just a few words exchanged between the members of the team. If you had to work on a project with a large group and/or it was a project that took a lot of time, you’re going to want to conduct a formal meeting to work through it.

You should make sure that every part of the project is complete and that it’s been turned over and approved by the client before you have your post mortem meeting. Having the meeting too early could mean that you’re congratulating yourselves before anything has even closed out and before you’re finished with the project. You want to make sure that you have the final approval so that you can see what you did well. If you haven’t gotten approval you might think you did something well but the client may not be happy with it.

You should ensure that these types of meeting become the norm in your office. That means, when you finish a project the entire team should know that you’re going to schedule a post mortem meeting. That way, it doesn’t come as a surprise to them and they’re ready to go when you are. You need to make sure that everyone knows when the meeting is going to happen (maybe you set a standard that exactly 1 week after a project is completed there will be a post mortem). Make sure you send out any information necessary to plan the meeting as early as possible too.

What to Bring to the Post Mortem Meeting

Just what do you need to have for a successful meeting? That’s not as difficult as you might think either. You’re going to need your team, of course, so make sure you’re keeping track of everyone who has worked on the project in any aspect. This shouldn’t be difficult with your Instagantt charts because you’ve already got a record of who was assigned different tasks. If any tasks were delegated out to others that aren’t on the chart, however, make sure you keep note of that too.

Also, make sure you bring any reports that were generated and a final copy of the project that was done. You may also want to make sure that you bring along the guidelines that were drafted from the start to comply with the client. All of this information is going to help you see just where you did well and where you could have done better. You’ll be able to compare the results with the original guidelines and look at the reports to see what took more time or less time, where the results are coming from and more.

Above all, people need to bring a positive outlook and a willingness to discuss everything that’s happened. With the help of your entire team you’re going to be able to improve your processes, whether by a little at a time or by changing something major. The most important thing that you can do is talk. If everyone is willing to look at things in a positive light and they’re willing to talk about the things that even they could have done better you’re definitely going to be setting yourself up for success.

Conducting a post mortem meeting is going to allow you and your entire team to continue improving your skills and your techniques. It’s going to help you to achieve more as a business and it’s going to keep your customers and clients even happier. By learning what you do well and what you could do better, you’re going to be continuously improving and that’s going to give you better results in the long run. A business that is willing to talk about their successes and failures realistically and logically is going to be better prepared to keep moving forward.

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