Thursday, November 6, 2014

Project Post Mortem

The Project

In a previous career, I was tasked with the reorganization of an information and assistance office.  The problem was information that was disorganized and out of date.  It was important to remedy this situation because case managers needed to be able to access accurate and up-to-date information for clients. 

In preparation, I met with the stakeholders (case managers) to identify the types and categories of information they needed and asked them to prioritize their needs.  For example, I asked if there was some information that needed to be bundled for quick access.  I also determined the placement of the new information storage and received consensus from the case managers.  However, while not a complete failure, the project did go the way I had expected. 

What went wrong?

While I had met with the stakeholders I had identified as being the primary focus of the reorganization, the case managers, I had failed to take into account other stakeholders.  Greer (2010) cautions that failure to include all the stakeholders will create problems, such as rework, or in my case, a complete work stoppage.  The stakeholder I had omitted was the chief financial officer who became very agitated to discover I was recycling materials.  Even though the materials were outdated and worthless to the case managers, because county funds had been used to purchase them there was a procedure that had to be followed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

How could this have been avoided?

The clich√©, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” was shared by Troy Achong in the video Practitioner Voices: Overcoming ‘Scope Creep’ (Laureate Education, n.d.).  Understanding the influence of internal stakeholders (case managers, clients) and external stakeholders (financial officer, county fiscal department) and ensuring that the project actions function within established policy and procedure would have gone a long way in avoiding the problem. 

How it all ended?

In the end, the materials were reorganized and the stakeholders were satisfied.  The chief financial officer and I were able to overcome the obstacle of county code by taking an accurate count of the materials destroyed and creating a written record.  From this problem also rose a solution.  By examining what went wrong and determining what could be learned from the mistake (Greer, 2010), we created a policy that limited the amount of material that could be purchased at one time.  The root cause of the original problem was the over purchasing of 


Greer, M. (2010). The project minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Overcoming ‘scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from


  1. Hello Rebecca,

    It appears you and I have made the same fatal mistake in not including all stakeholders. Depending on the environment, this can be rather challenging. When I was at a previous organization, everyone was offended if their opinions and ideas were not included in all the decisions and changes. Sometimes I wonder how much of it has to do with ego in comparison to their actually contribution to the project. I began sending out surveys just to give everyone an opportunity to weigh in their opinion. This also helped me identify stakeholders that may have been missed. This was rather time consuming and did not always solve the problem, it at least demonstrated to the masses that I cared about their opinions.

    1. Excellent advice! My problem was that I was VERY low in the hierarchy of the office and the fact that I did not check with each and every manager was the issue. I have learned a great deal since then about office politics. I wish I hadn't had to learn most of my lessons about them the hard way, but at least it does leave a lasting impression.