Retrospectives to improve project execution excellence

We working at IT will spend most of our time executing projects; follow many methodologies, frameworks etc. We do projects and get busy with next one and so on, leaving behind happy or unhappy clients. People working on the projects carry their good n bad experiences from project to project but how can organization leverage the best out of its own SDLC experiences to achieve the project execution excellence and improve the processes?

Organizations have their own tailored SDLC’s that worked for them in past and they harp on it for future success. Each company has their own PAL (Process Assest Library) and those SDLC’s support PDR (Plan, Do, Review) model to execute the lifecycle, it is really important that how well and differently we do the last part (Review) to do a better job on plan n review next time.

Agile methodology religiously recommends “Retrospection” to support continuous improvement in project execution, to reap best benefits of it, Organizations need to implement this process very innovatively. Building a retrospective framework for organization amend it continuously as and when required.

For strong e-process base like ours have a good scope to build/change the existing framework to accommodate few ideas.

Conducting the retrospectives is an art can be slowly mastered as the learning’s grow, while building a new framework you need ask few basic questions like:

  • What retrospectives you want to have i.e. types of retrospectives? (Release Retrospective, Phase Retrospective, Event (design, coding, testing) Retrospective etc).
  • At what frequency you want to have retrospectives? (Study the SDLC implemented and arrive at the acceptable frequency, point to note here is that frequency can different for different projects).
  • Do we have retrospective template in PAL? (Retrospective Template).
  • Who all needs to be part of retrospective? (Treat the session as feedback for improvement for everyone).
  • Where to do retrospective? (It is good to do it away from work place, we can be innovative in this 🙂 ).
  • What all do you need to conduct a retrospective? (Use creative ideas to make it interesting).
  • How you want conduct retrospective? (This depends on type of retrospective we are having so that you can choosy to what to include & exclude).

Some sample questions for retrospections are:

  • What was done & done well?
  • What went bad? (No pointing of fingers, try to evolve ideas to correct next time. Strike balance in history of things and future implementation.)
  • Where can we be more creative? (Very important document them and share).
  • What are we taking back from here? (We = PMO, PL, Architects, Execution Team, Reviewers etc).
  • What challenges we faced? (Helps in generating ideas around these).

Now I am sure you will ask me when/where these will be used, here PMO can take the ownership of creating PERL (Project Execution Retrospective Library) and make it available to everyone for references and post the changes it is bringing in PAL. Above is a little summary to facilitate continuous learning to bring excellence in project execution. Finally we need build the retrospective framework for having retrospective for retrospectives we conduct that makes it evolving framework. Please allow me to retrospect with your feedback 🙂 do share your comments, ideas & suggestions here or am also reachable on cnu.tsr@gmail.com.

Happy Retrospections 🙂

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