The Ant and The Elephant

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					 Through the Looking Glass -
How to do a Post Project Review
         Barbara Purchia
        February 20, 2001

        Rational Software


• What is a Post Project Review?
• When to do it
• How to do it
• Post Project Review Meeting
• Real life problems
• What have we found so far
• Summary

                                     What Are They?

          A Rose by Any Other Name

• Post Project Review (PPR)

• Project Retrospective

• Project Legacy

• Project Summary

• Post Mortem

• Post Partum

                                                What Are They?

       What is a Post Project Review?

• A summary of project development, start to finish
• A brief description and analysis of
   –   Project activities
   –   Results
   –   Lessons learned
   –   Recommendations
• An improvement tool
   – NOT a record of failures

                                          What Are They?

Why Should We Do a Post Project Review?

 • Learn from project experiences

 • Retain knowledge for future projects

 • Understand how your project was done

 • Identify areas to improve

 • Understand successes

 • Provide team closure

                                                 When to Do Them

               When Do I Do One?

• For completed, terminated, or cancelled projects
   – No more than 30 days after project end      ???
   – NOT before project release

   – When all critical participants can attend

• During the project
   – After a major project milestone

   – At designated schedule points

   – When things are not going well

                                     How To Do Them

                  What’s Involved?
• Collect the information
   – Technical
   – Managerial
   – Metrics
   – Schedules

• Anything kept during the project
   – Manager or project logs
   – Emails
   – ...

                                                How To Do Them

            What’s the Deliverable?

• Concise documented information summary
   – Development activities
   – Project metrics
   – Estimates and actuals
   – Technical and managerial lessons learned
   – Recommendations for future projects

• Focused only on the project and the processes

                                      How To Do Them

                    How Do I Start?

• Hold a meeting including
   – ALL participating functions
   – Project management team
   – Affected functions

• Request input via email
   – Remote sites
   – Managerial lessons learned
   – Filtered to be unattributable
                                                       How To Do Them

                 What Is a PPR Meeting?
• A tool for reviewing and analyzing the project
• Promote discussion on improvements
• Involve a critical mass of those directly involved
• Promote discussion of all project areas
   – Deliverables
   – Team dynamics
   – Processes
• Provide input for the PPR document
• Provide closure for the project team

                                               How To Do Them

  What Doesn’t the PPR Meeting Do?

• Assign blame to any individual or group
• Provide an exhaustive study of the project
• Provide solutions to all issues
• Shoot the messenger

                                                How To Do Them

         How to Hold a PPR Meeting

• Use a facilitator
• Set up a firm time
• Use an agenda
• Ensure Senior Management support/sponsorship
• Keep the focus on the process not the people!!!

                                                 How To Do Them

    How to Plan for the PPR Meeting
• Pick the meeting date
• Identify attendees and ensure availability
• Book the room in advance
• Prepare an agenda
• If using a questionnaire, review the questions and
  tailor it for the project
• Send meeting announcement

                                                                 How To Do Them

              Roles and Responsibilities

• Senior Management                        • Facilitator
   – Ensure that a PPR is done                 – Non-project member
• PPR Sponsor                                  – Help plan and organize meeting
   –   Call the PPR meeting                    – Ensure meeting runs smoothly
   –   Ensure that information gathered    • Administrator
   –   Produce and post the PPR document       – Capture the issues and
   –   Use the data                              recommendations
• Project team members
   – Attend the meeting and participate
   – Use the data

                                                           How To Do Them

           PPR Meeting Attendees

•   Managers                           •   Documentation
•   Team Members                       •   International
•   Project                            •   Beta
•   Program                            •   Service
•   Product                            •   UI
•   QA/QE                              •   Manufacturing
•   Development                        •    ...

            All Project Participants

                                              How To Do Them

           Facilitator Preparation

• For each group, work with the sponsor to
   – Understand the environment

   – Understand the culture

   – Understand the people

   – Understand any previous PPR activities

                                                                  How To Do Them

                  Sponsor Preparation

• Produce a brief project refresher
   – Time line of key milestones and/or significant activities

• Review the PPR questionnaire with the Facilitator

• Identify anticipated issue categories with the Facilitator
                                                         75 MPH      Milestone

• Review any previous PPRs
   – Documents                                                            Start

   – Improvement activities

                                     How To Do Them

           Participant Preparation

• Think about the project

• Review the questionnaire

• Review meeting minutes

• Review emails, documentation, ..

                                                   How To Do Them

                     Room Preparation

• Done by the facilitator
• Ensure that meeting aids are in the room
   – Flip charts
   – Markers
   – Post-its
   – Tape or tacks
   – Pens

• Bring candy, donuts, or have lunch available after the
  meeting (optional)
                                     The PRR Meeting

             PPR Meeting Logistics

• Split into two parts

   – Looking backwards

   – Looking ahead

                                                   The PRR Meeting

    Example Two Hour Meeting Agenda
• Introduction and Groundrules (5 minutes)
• Project refresher (10-15 minutes)
• What Went Well and Issues Gathering (40 minutes)
• Prioritization (10 minutes)
• Brainstorm solutions for top 3 issues (40 minutes)
• Meeting Closure (5-10 minutes)

                                       The PRR Meeting

• Be polite and gracious
• Focus on problems and process
• No finger pointing
• No assigning blame
• No “You’s”
• Let each person have a turn        Off
• Avoid defensiveness              head!!!

• Respect everyone’s perspective       Off with

                            The PRR Meeting

Project Refresher Example

                                                       The PRR Meeting

 What Went Well and Issues Gathering

• Split into separate activities
• Use Post-its
• What Went Well
   – Use flip chart sheet(s)
   – Put “What Went Well” Header on flip chart sheet
   – Write down positives on Post-its
   – Read in round robin fashion until done
   – Facilitator puts on flip chart sheet
   – Group any duplicates
                         Barb’s Lessons Learned
                                                         The PRR Meeting

What Went Well and Issues Gathering
• Issues
  – Use flip chart sheets
  – Write potential issue categories on top of blank sheets
  – Have several blank sheets
  – Tape to wall
  – Write down issues on Post-its
  – Read in round robin fashion until done
  – Facilitator puts on flip chart sheet
  – Group any duplicates

                        Barb’s Lessons Learned
                                                   The PRR Meeting

                   Post-It Rules

• One item per Post-It
• Write as many Post-Its as you want
• Write enough so that each idea stands on its own
• Read 1 Post-It per person until we are done
• Identify duplicates and pass them to the facilitator
• One item per Post-It

                                                          The PRR Meeting

                Issue Prioritization

• Everyone checks issues
   – Ensure grouped correctly
   – Ensure duplicates collected correctly     Last minute changes
                                                to requirements (8)
• Everyone gets 3 votes
                                             Finish critical components
   – Used however person feels                        sooner (4)

• Total all issues                            More Beta Test sites (4)

• Identify top 3 issues
   – Check in with group to see if agree

                                                       The PRR Meeting

Brainstorm Solutions for Top 3 Issues
            Technique 1
• Use flip chart sheets
   – Identify the issue and page number on top right
   – Write issue on top of flip chart sheet
• Write down all solutions
   – Get clarification as needed
   – Check in to see if captured correctly
• Spend 10 - 15 minutes per issue
• Check in if energy low

                                                       The PRR Meeting

Brainstorm Solutions for Top 3 Issues
            Technique 2
• Identify volunteer facilitators for the top issues
   – Include similar items
• Break up into groups
• Volunteer facilitators should use flip chart sheets
   – Identify the issue and page number on top right
   – Write issue on top of flip chart sheet
• Write down all solutions
   – Get clarification as needed
   – Check in to see if captured correctly

                                          The PRR Meeting

                Meeting Closure

• Thank people for attending

• Answer any questions         THANKS!!

• Re-iterate the next steps

• Thank people again

                                                The PRR Meeting

                  Facilitator Tips
• Protect each speaker
• Pay attention to the speaker
• Keep the meeting positive
• Don’t filter the information
• Let people finish their thoughts
• Help people continue the discussion, not sidebars
• Check-in with group
• Ensure that senior or vocal person does not shut down
• Make it fun
                                                The PRR Meeting

Candidates for Questionnaire and Issues
 • Project objectives
 • Project requirements
 • Project planning, tracking, and risk management
 • Localization
 • Training, Knowledge, Tools                ???
 • Functional specifications
 • Development strategy/process
 • Lessons learned
 • Communications

                                                                The PRR Meeting

             Sample Questionnaire
• Project Objectives
      • What were the objectives? Were the objectives clearly stated?
      • Were the objectives of the project met?
      • Did everyone work from the same set of objectives?
• Project Requirements
      • Was there a Requirements document?
      • Were the requirements known, understood and adhered to?
      • Did the requirements change? If yes, why and how often?
• Project Planning and Risk Management
      • Was there a project plan? Was it maintained throughout the
      • At the outset, was the schedule realistic?
      • Did the project plan change? If so, why and how often?

                                                After the PRR Meeting

What Does the Sponsor Do After the PPR?
• Collect metrics
   – Estimated and actual
      •   Staffing
      •   Milestones and schedules
      •   Project cost
      •   Code size
      •   Quality (e.g. defects)
      •   Any other useful metric information
• Collect managerial lessons learned
• Write the PPR document
   – Use an administrator to help
   – Have team review document
• Post or distribute the PPR document
                                               After the PRR Meeting

 What Else Does the Sponsor Do After
              the PPR?

• Follow-up on action items
• Use information in the next or similar projects
• Communicate improvements

                                        After the PRR Meeting

           Outline for PPR Document
• Introduction
• Results vs Plan
   –   Status
   –   Staffing
   –   Milestones
   –   Cost
   –   Quality
• Lessons Learned
   –   What went well
   –   What didn’t go well
   –   Technical lessons
   –   Managerial lessons
• Recommendations for future projects

              Real Life Problems

• The data is not used
• The document is not produced
• People feel that nothing will come from the meeting
• The document takes forever to complete
• Meeting gets out of control
• Key people don’t provide input


               What Have We Found
• Consistent issue areas
• Issues moving further downstream in the process
   – Requirements and specifications
   – Communications
   – Quality
   – Project planning and tracking
   – Process

• People expect follow-through
• A focus on “management” instead of what “I” can do
• Department and organizational project similarities

         How Have PPRs Helped Us?
• Used the schedule information to plan the next

• Used actual cost information for project prediction

• Organization metrics

    – Time between phases

    – Time to market

    – Bottleneck areas

•   Opportunities to share solutions
• Valuable tool for capturing and learning from
  past projects

• Valuable tool for predicting future projects

• Good mechanism for project closure

• Great vehicle for tracking organizational

• Good way for the facilitator to learn about the

                              Try it.
                           You’ll like it!!


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