How to Prepare Project Reviews?

Program and Project Management


Project Manager, India

How to Prepare Project Reviews?

How you prepare your project review report once a projects gets completed? I work in a apparel industry in India and basically I take care of NSO (New store openings).


Musonda Ernest Kabwe

Start Working on Project Review Reports from Project Initiation

That's quite challenging... Generally it's best if you start book keeping from the project kickoff and perform reviews every week or so until the final review is performed.

Pornpunsa Wuttisanwattana
Management Consultant, Thailand

Project Review Preparation

It depends on who will use it. It could be bank, investor, project manager, board of management. Typically you provide only the information they need and try to present it in a way that is best for them to comprehend and use.


Project Review Steps

Below are some typical steps you can incorporate in a project review process. You should adapt it to your specific situation.
Ensure that the scope and objectives of the review are understood. This will usually come from the sponsor or senior management. This will usually provide insights into any concerns that have driven the request for the review. It is important to agree / understand the expected time line for the review and the format for presenting findings.
Like with anything, preparation is key to making the review as successful as it can be. This will include:
- Documenting and confirming scope, duration and format for findings
- Pre-read of project documentation including business case, status reports, steering committee packs, etc
- Capturing and agreeing stakeholders to be interviewed
- Scheduling interviews
- Drafting initial hypothesis of problems
- Drafting questions for interviews to explore hypothesis
The first interview should be with the sponsor. This will allow clarification of concerns, background to project, understanding why the project is important, etc.
It will also allow for the hypothesis to be tested to see if it resonates with the sponsor. This step is very important where time is limited and the review has to be completed in a short period of time. It will ensure that the review is focused on the areas of concern. However, ensure that this meeting (as with all the meetings) is with an open mind as there may be areas the sponsor has missed or has a bias.
Ideally this should be the next interview on the schedule. It will allow the concerns to be probed and tested to see if the concerns (and the hypothesis) are well founded. It is not unusual for the project manager to be defensive. Therefore, you will need to be persistent and phrase the questions so as not to be confrontational. Areas of concern where the responses from the project manager contradict the sponsor / documentation must be accurately captured so that they can be tested with other stakeholders / project team members.
The other scheduled meetings should be completed as quickly as possible and, information gathered in earlier meetings tested. This may then prompt further questions meaning that you then have to meet again with some of the stakeholders.For all of the meetings, try to follow the same questions. Always document the sessions and where appropriate, send the meeting notes to the person you met with. This will allow any misunderstandings to be corrected before the final conclusions are reached. It also means that you can trace conclusions back to the underlying evidence.
When the interviews and cross checks are complete, the data should be analysed and reviewed against original concerns and hypothesis. This will allow draft findings to be documented.
It is important to review the draft conclusion with the sponsor and, if appropriate, the project manager. This will allow them to understand the findings and importantly, the reasons for the findings. It will then allow the final conclusion document to be finessed and deliver the message that will give the best chance for action to be taken. It also allows for any points to be clarified. The project manager or even the sponsor may not agree with the findings. Do not change the findings just because you are put under pressure, it will not help the project with potential challenges and, if the project fails, it will reflect badly that the review did not identify the issues.
Finalize the conclusion in a document ensuring that it contains an executive summary that clearly answers the original scope / objectives of the review and identifies high risk items. While confirming the concerns / high risk items is important, to make the review really valuable, prepare an action plan for addressing the findings. This will show great initiative and will be well received by the sponsor and senior management as it will be possible to address the items without delay. This is a technique used very effectively by consultancies to secure follow-on engagements.
Source: PMMajik.


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