Ending Projects on a Productive Note
Amanda Ruehlen, Former Project Management Director
We're often energized to begin a project on the right foot, and we have many steps in our process to ensure that projects start smoothly. Anything from internal kickoffs to field trips garner team excitement and spark the right mindset to begin a successful project.
But what about the end of the project? Wrapping up a project in a smart way is just as important as kicking it off. There are lessons learned, opportunities for sharing, and plenty to reflect upon. Here are a few things we do at Viget to make sure projects end on a positive, and productive, note:
We’re a pretty self-reflective bunch. We always hold a post-mortem meeting with the full internal project team and senior leadership once the project ends. The goal is to look back at lessons learned during the experience, and identify insights that can be brought into future projects.
Before the retrospective, we send a survey to the team, getting feedback on what worked, what didn't, and why. The PM consolidates the feedback into a master retrospective document, and uses it to prepare an agenda that will guide the discussion at the retrospective meeting. The retrospective document is also accessible to the whole company for future reference, and highlighted in that week's lab report (our version of an internal, weekly company newsletter).
After the retrospective, each individual team member reports back to their lab with any discipline-specific lessons learned. This typically incites more discussion, and ensures that our processes and approaches evolve when they need to, and for the right reasons.
We strive to measure “Did it work?” on every project, and a key part of kicking off a project is identifying success metrics with the client.
We'll coordinate with our analytics team to make sure we plan ahead for a post-launch success metrics evaluation a few months after every launch. Depending on the engagement or type of project, this analysis can range from a formal report we share with the client to an informal discussion with just our team. Whether it ends up as a client deliverable or not, reviewing post-launch data has become a must in our process.
By the time the project (and the retrospective) have wrapped, we’ve built up a significant amount of new knowledge, lessons, and generally cool stuff that we’re itching to share.
Team members are encouraged to blog about something they learned, or perhaps conduct a microclass on newly mastered skills as a result of the project. Sometimes, we’ll share at a conference, and the whole team rallies to tell the project story in our Viget.com portfolio section.
We value that sharing happens so freely and organically within our industry, and are always excited to contribute with some of our own relevant project experiences.
After all the hard work, launching something awesome, and learning a boatload along the way, the final, and possibly most important step at the end of a project, is to celebrate. Whether it’s a team happy hour, dinner outing, party, or impromptu cookie cake, we try to find something celebratory (and fun) for the whole team. Afterall, the feeling of being “done” is hard to beat.
Finding ways to recap a project and share lessons is not only rewarding, but also ensures that the next project is that much better. Whatever post-project processes or documentation you use (or don’t use), take a moment to reflect, measure, share, and celebrate at the end of a project, and you'll find more value than you could imagine.