Monday, November 5, 2012

PSMJ Tips: Plan a Project PRE-Mortem

All projects have problems and speed bumps along the way. Many firms hold “lessons learned” meetings following project completion, discussing and analyzing what went wrong – or right, sometimes – to determine how the next project can benefit and improve from the last one. The goal of these meetings is to avoid making the same mistakes over and over, and to repeat the actions or factors that were successful.

But instead of performing a project postmortem, try doing a project pre-mortem, where you and your team brainstorm on all of the things that might veer off course, and determine what the corrective action would be. This follows the old adage of hoping for the best, but planning for the worst. Consider the following project factors when doing your pre-mortem:

Project schedule 

• Project budget 

• Internal and subcontracted technical capabilities 

• Client dynamics and politics

• External factors (i.e. permitting, underground conditions, etc.) 

• IT issues 

If appropriate for the format, include some of what was discussed in the Project Management Plan (PMP), and share the pre-mortem with your client. It’ll help them understand where problems and glitches commonly surface, and it’ll show them that your team is already thinking ahead, making sure that the project runs smoothly.

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