Postmortem Reports

After the project is done, there is a lot of important information out in the organization that can help a project manager run future projects better. There is a brief period after the software is released to the users when everyone is done with the tasks, but when they still have a lot of strong opinions and remember specific details about how the project went. If this information is documented in a way that can be used to help in the future, it will be a valuable resource for the organization.

A postmortem report is an overall account of the team's experience in building the software, and of the experience of the users and stakeholders in working with the team. The report should contain an honest assessment of how the team members, users, and stakeholders perceived the end product and assessed the decisions made throughout the project. The purpose of the postmortem report is to highlight the team's successes and identify any problems that should be fixed in future releases.

Often, a project manager will gather the project team together with anyone who had anything to do with the software project into a large meeting so they can talk about the project. This is rarely effective—it just turns into a big, useless meeting (see Chapter 5). In the same way that people are uncomfortable criticizing each others' work or taking that criticism for individual work products, they can be equally uncomfortable doing it for the entire project. This is especially true when it ...

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