Project review is a vital tool for business success

16 November 2012 | By Catherine Wheatcroft

Business owners and managers need to understand the insightful and critical role that project (lessons learnt) reviews play within business. If companies are to carve a path of success, stability and growth then they need to move project reviews to the core of all client projects.

When mentioning project reviews to most business people, there is a typical view that they are limited to specific industries such as construction, engineering and manufacturing. I will not argue that it is very important and mainly used in these industries, but they are not the only sectors that will benefit.
What director aiming to be successful, would admit that they do not give serious regard to business improvement, learning best practice and continuously improving client satisfaction? What senior manager would say that they do not review process or even worse, admit to project failures with no documented ideas for why they failed?

The concept of project reviews historically focuses on blame and who did not do what, or who failed in some way. This approach will never succeed and has no hope of providing anything tangible for the business to learn from or improve upon. A business needs to look at what the outcome needs to be from any project review, what are they trying to achieve, how do they hope to change the next project, what areas should have a focus for improvement and most importantly; what processes or methods were used that went well, made a positive impact, cemented client relations and must be repeated in future projects?
Directors can no longer afford to give project reviews a fleeting glance if they are to remain competitive, in any market. Nowadays there is pressure within all client projects to keep costs under control, prevent wastage, optimise timescales and maximise workforce skill. So knowing your strong and weak points is critical to managing projects and client expectations.

How much do you know about your company’s last client project success factors, can you answer these questions?
• Did the project deliver more benefit than cost?
• Did you meet agreed timescales?
• How many of the project objectives did the project deliver?
• Did the project deliver the expected results?
• Were the project team fully engaged on the project?
• If the project was repeated, would there be a better outcome?

No longer should businesses believe that project reviews are confined to certain sectors. Effective project reviews open up major opportunities to leverage future project success that all clients will benefit from.

Consistent project reviews will unearth those vital questions and answers that go on to make better corporate strategy, smoother lines of communication, more efficient processes and a more effective team. This in turn, will build your place in the market, give you competitive advantage and win you more business in the long run.