Many people avoid one of the most crucial steps of any project: the post-project evaluation phase.
Moving to the next project immediately or rushing through a hardly-detailed project assessment does your team more harm than good. Analyzing how well a project went and what you can do to make the next one better is one of the most brilliant things any team can do.
You should always make time for post-project evaluations. Here’s why:
Access a Wealth of Data
When your team begins a project, a lot of data is collected in the process from start to finish. From the data you gather from your tools to the feedback you get from your team and stakeholders, there’s a wealth of information to analyze in the post-project evaluation.
Sometimes, the datasets will be so massive that it’s overwhelming. Still, it’s better to have access and dive into data than not. Without it, you’ll hinder your ability to improve your processes for the next project.
The post-project evaluation also leads to a more successful next project.
Better the Next Project
One of the main reasons to prioritize a post-project evaluation is that your next project is even better. When you sit down with your team after a project is complete, you can find out what went well and what didn’t.
Also, in evaluating the good and bad details of the project, the outcome, and how the team worked together, you can pinpoint what to adjust to make the next effort more seamless.
A post-project evaluation is excellent for an in-depth look at the projects you’re pursuing as well.
Think Deeper About the Projects You’re Pursuing
When you sit down with your team to discuss how a project went, the conversation may lead to learning more about what kind of projects you’re taking on.
For example, you may find that your team would enjoy doing more projects like the one you just finished. Or you could find out that this type of project burns your team out, and either some adjustments need to be made to the workflow and responsibilities of each team member, or you don’t need to take on similar projects in the future.
More satisfied customers can come from a post-project evaluation too.
More Satisfied Customers
A significant part of a post-project evaluation is looking at the outcome or end product. Did you achieve your vision in full or fall short? How did the client like it? Did it improve their business as planned or miss the mark?
Understanding how the outcome resonated with customers can give you insight into how to improve the product for next time, which incites stronger client relationships.
Like post-project evaluation leads to better customer relationships, it also leads to better teams.
Improve the Way Your Team Works Together
Another top reason to make time for post-project evaluation is its impact on your team. In these meetings, you have an opportunity to gain insight into how your team worked together. You can talk about each team member’s contributions and how they feel about the journey to project completion. Something like Project Management Software is always helpful when determining risk and reward.
You can also learn more about what made it hard for your team to work together and what made it easy. This will lead to better team productivity, processes, and workflows.
In addition, post-project evaluation allows for a genuine celebration of your team’s achievements.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Many teams go straight into the next project after completing one without even so much as a pat on the back. But not celebrating your team and its achievements can lead to them feeling undervalued and unappreciated, resulting in a high turnover rate.
Evaluating a project once it’s done can allow you to honor your team for all they did in the process.
Furthermore, post-project evaluations can elevate your business overall.
Elevate Your Business Overall
Your entire business can benefit from evaluating every project. Your assessment should include examining your business’s processes and how they contributed to or took away from a successful project.
In looking at these processes, you can develop a plan for scaling your business in the area that hindered project completion, like your tech stack or needing more talent on your team.
How to Conduct a Post-Project Evaluation
As we can see, reflecting on a project once it’s done is critical for team and company growth. The next step is implementing them in your team regularly.
Here’s how to ensure each post-project evaluation is a success:
Ask everyone to contribute
Post-project evaluations are a lot more productive when every team member contributes. Therefore, it’s imperative to get the experience and perspective of each team member to ensure you’re getting a complete picture of how the project went.
It’s best to set the expectation for their contributions before you start a project. Ask everyone to document details of the project journey to have notes to refer to in the evaluation once it’s all done.
Also, send out an email a few days before your post-project evaluation with specific questions your team should have answers to come meeting day. You could even assign a topic to each person to ensure everyone contributes.
Set up individual and group meetings
As those responses from your team come in, set a date and time for your group evaluation. You’ll also want to set up individual meetings with each team member if you can swing it. Doing so gives those that aren’t comfortable expressing themselves in front of everyone an opportunity to say how they really feel in private.
Schedule your group meeting no more than three days after completing a project and your individual sessions within a week. You want the experience fresh in your team’s mind when it’s time to conduct the evaluation.
Create an evaluation agenda
The day before your group and each individual evaluation meeting, create an agenda. These meetings can get off track pretty quickly. Having an agenda to refer to when they do will make it easier to regroup and keep the conversation productive.
Your evaluation agenda should detail what you want to address. For example, you may want to talk about your project management plan, team strengths and weaknesses, and how communication went with the client throughout the process.
Your agenda should also detail how long the entire evaluation will last and how much time you want to spend on each topic.
Develop an action plan once the meeting concludes
Integral to each post-project evaluation is a plan for what you will do once the meeting is over.
Based on what you learned in this evaluation, come away with at least three things you want to do better in the next project and beyond. Then, develop a step-by-step plan for executing each activity or task. Also, document how you will track whether your team is implementing your adjustments in the next project.
It may take a few days to put together and email out to everyone, but it’s so worth it for what it can do for your team, next project, and clients.
Follow-up on the action plan
It’s one thing to develop an action plan. It’s another to get everyone to do it. And it’s a whole other thing to ensure it’s carried over into every project in the future.
Designating one person or a small group to follow up on each post-project evaluation action plan ensures your team integrates what they learned from this project into the next.
A project isn’t complete without a post-project evaluation. Conducting one after every project will better your team, the outcome of the next project, and your business overall. Use the tips above to ensure your post-project evaluations are as impactful as possible.