In most project management offices (PMO), gathering data to make decisions and improvements is the bread and butter. Using these four steps for your project review when closing a project will give lots of data and insight to base decisions on.

Whilst your PMO monitors data from projects all through their lifecycle, once the project is completed you get the change to take in the full picture. Any process or data deviations can be checked against final outcomes.

Once you’re the deliverables have been transferred and approved, contracts closed, and project resources released, you can start the project review process. To assist, we’re going to look at:

  • Why a project review is a vital PMO process
  • Who you need to engage in the review process
  • The four steps you need to take to complete the review

Making sure your project will end as well as it was run.

Why is a project review important when closing a project?

Conducting a project review is how you learn lessons once a project is complete. Handing over the deliverables may be the end for the client, but for your PMO you need to understand what happened to get to that point.

The main reasons you should conduct a project review are:

  • You can see how successful the project was in its entirety
  • You begin to understand where improvements can be made in the future
  • It’s a chance to measure a range of factors of success with input from many people
  • The data should feed into the overall KPIs of the project and can determine bonuses

You will get a variety of datapoints that will contribute to your PMO in the long-term, not just about the single project at hand.

Who needs to be involved in a project review to close a project?

Everyone who has had a hand in your project should be involved during the review stage. That doesn’t mean that you will ask the same questions to everyone in the project, though.

It’s important that you plan who you want to engage in the project review process, and in general they will be:

  • The project manager, since they have a full view over all the project
  • The project sponsor, who has seen a general overview of the project
  • The project team; the people who have worked with the processes and delivered the goods
  • Contractors who have made a contribution to small areas of the project
  • Suppliers who have interacted with the project and processes it uses
  • End users – the ones who have received the deliverable and worked on requirements
  • Clients, because they are the ones who have paid for everything

Engage the analysts and other PMO workers who have worked on the project as well. Their PMO experience working with the project can offer valuable insight.

How to conduct a project review once the project is finished?

There are lots of people to engage and you need to have a plan to make sure you don’t end up with a pile of questionnaire responses and no analysis. Here are the steps to complete a project review:

  1. Decide what you want to know. You need to understand what you’re going to measure, usually linked to KPIs for the project, PM, and your PMO. We have a comprehensive list of questions and considerations to help with this point.
  2. Determine who will be asked each question. You don’t need to ask the end user how your new budget spreadsheet affected the project, for example. Target your questions to who can offer insight and always give space for any other feedback.
  3. Produce a quick report with headline data. Once you have all responses in, an interim report delivered quickly will show stakeholders that their feedback is valuable and deliver information whilst the project if fresh in peoples’ minds.
  4. Complete a full report including recommendations to make changes, such as to PMO processes or how relationships are handles and ensure it is delivered to stakeholders, too.

How to complete a project review

Project reviews give you the benefit of hindsight to see how your project really performed. You can gather data about budgets and timelines now that everything has been paid and timelines have been concluded. Wider lessons can be learned from stakeholders so processes can be improved and successes can be recognised