Perhaps you just had a mind-blowing project experience, and you want a replica achievement in the next one, or maybe you had troubles navigating hurdles before you completed the project. You want to troubleshoot ahead, so you don’t face similar problems in the next project.
A project Debrief will help you capture lessons from the project to improve and get better results in a subsequent project. If you care about professional and personal improvement, you need a project debrief. A project debrief will help you to improve things in the subsequent one.
It’s a simple, powerful tool to hone your project management skills. This brings us to the question. What is a project debrief?
This article will explain what project debrief entail, why it is essential, how to use it effectively to ask the right questions, things to include in your project debrief and how to prepare a project debrief template.
What Is A Project Debrief?
Download a sample project debrief template in pdf below
A project debrief is a vital and powerful yet simple tool to optimise your project management skills and outcome.
Also referred to as a project post-mortem is an after-action review and the process of analysing a project done to decipher its component. A project debrief template will answer questions like what went well, what did not, how to improve e.t.c Project debrief is vital because it gives you the luxury to recap on the positive and the negative of the project you just completed. If a project debrief is appropriately done, it provides a team with the opportunity to learn what and what not to do to achieve set objectives in subsequent projects.
A project debrief is similar to parent-child bonding, where parents teach and correct their wards on their actions to have a better idea and improve next time. Conducting a project debrief enable you and your team to have healthy growth, be more productive and obtain sustainable results.
How do you conduct a good project debrief? The first step is organising a good project debrief template. It’s what blueprint that will guide you during the entire project debrief process. A good project debrief template requires some steps to be a success. Below are the steps to be taken to achieve a good project debrief template;
How to create a Good Project Debrief Template
- Spare Time for the project debrief.
This theory is simple on paper but difficult to practice in real life. Most Start-up organisations tend to be busy and get into another project upon completion of one. However, project debrief provide a lot of benefits just to ignore.Fix a project debrief into your team’s tight schedule. It goes best when the entire team is involved. Ensure to prioritise meetings that “force” the team to engage in a project debrief.
- Set Expectations
You and your team must set the expectation that a project debrief will be standard after every project is completed. This will ensure that any team members are not surprised when the time arises and can spare time to participate
- Choose a moderator For Project Debrief Meeting
Elect yourself or any member of the team to moderate project debrief meetings. Having an individual to be responsible for this duty enables meetings to go smoothly and in a civil manner. Ensure that the entire team is clear on who the moderator is. After you’ve successfully prioritized the steps above, the next thing is wrapping up as you and your team members are ready to conduct a good project debrief process.
The key ingredient of a successful project debrief is a good project debrief template. This is the guide on how the project debrief process will be explored and the main component is asking the right questions.
Project debrief questions vary and can be of any form. However, the base structure of the questions must address three simple inquires namely;
- what were the project’s objectives?
- Were the objectives goal achieved or not
- How can we improve?
What were the project’s Objectives?
This question addresses what the whole project is trying to accomplish. It’s essential to start your project debrief process by doing a recap of the project’s objectives. Starting the process with these questions, will set things into perspective, and the entire team members will be reminded of what the project objective was. This will make answering the following two questions easier.
Were the objectives achieved or not?
It is essential to discuss the positive and the negative of the project. What actually happened? Was the outcome a success or not?. Don’t only ask questions about the good or bad; ask why it was. Asking broad questions like that provides real value.
However, It may be challenging to get team members to confess what went wrong. Nobody likes discussing their failures, so this is natural. But discussing it helps to discover why things went sideways so that you can make the necessary adjustment to avoid replicating the same issues in a subsequent project.
Furthermore, Ensure that your team understand the need to discuss the downside and reassure them they won’t get in trouble for admitting mistakes and revealing problems. Provide enough time to answer each question and give all team members access to share their thoughts so that no opinion gets unshared.
How can we improve?
Finally, the last question. It’s important to enquire about how the team can grow. How will the team adjust and improve on the subsequent project? Drawing actionable conclusions will ensure the team learn from both success and failure to better the chance of succeeding in the next project.
If after a completed project, you desire to debrief the project, your project debrief template questions can revolve around the following
- What did we intend to accomplish with the project?
- What eventually happened?
- What went well with the project? What didn’t? Why?
- How can we improve in subsequent projects?
- What should be done differently in the future?
- How can we capture the information to use in a subsequent one?
A good project debriefs template will seek to provide answers to these questions.
Now that you’ve provided the right answers to the questions asked, it’s time to take action about what you’ve learned. A good project debrief won’t do the team any good if you don’t optimize the approach for the future.
The project debriefs template itself is simple, but it requires using the key ingredient so that the whole debrief process will be insightful. The template is the backbone of the whole process, and when it’s done well, you’ll have to yourself extensive feedback from numerous stakeholders and clarifications on what’s worth doing again, what needs to be improved and how to go about it.
The entire project debrief process isn’t complicated, but commitment is required. Whatever conclusion the team arrive at, ensure that all team member understands the project debrief results and next step to explore.