Hindsight: Project Post Mortem


Now that it’s all said and done, I would have done a few things differently.  I recently worked with a great team to present a simulcast day conference event.  This conference was a motivational day conference for women and we had an exciting day planned. Overall, this event was a huge success and the women had a great time but there were some missed opportunities and some things that could have been handled better.

We spent a lot of time and energy in the planning phase, ensuring we had all stakeholders involved and that every contributing team member knew their role and responsibility.  We had a great technology team in place to ensure all conferencing equipment worked and we made plans for them to be available for any emergencies during the event (box checked). We had lunches planned for delivery with special needs meals available (check). We planned for breaks and had snacks available for the late afternoon break (check).  All print materials and conference gift bags were put together and ready to present to the ladies (check).  Ushers were in place to guide the ladies and help them find their assigned conference rooms (check). It seemed as though we had planned for everything and we were ready.

What we did not plan for, the overwhelming responses from the participants’ survey cards and how to follow through with needs or requests for services. The survey cards were hand written and this quickly became a nightmare to manage. Someone now needs to read through them all, capture all of the responses in an electronic format for further analysis and easy storage/access.  This could have easily been resolved if we had planned an electronic survey to capture these results. The only other issue was conference employee participation in the conference event. Looking back, I would have held a short training on professional behavior expectations. There were times when the workers were “caught up” in the various lessons that they were not making themselves available to serve the participants’ needs. While this was not a major issue, this is something I would address if I had to do this over again.


Posted on July 9, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Great summary! Overwhelming customer response is a great problem to have.)


  2. Natasha,
    Very well written, I love that about the lessons learned meetings. They allow us to adjust for future endeavors of the same. The professional behavior is a great idea as it reminds ourselves to behave in a way that is flawless and meets the needs of our customers. I am going to take that into account for my project planning.


  3. Natasha,

    Good post, and I like the inclusion of the graphic as well. Planning and developing a large event certainly requires a lot of planning and preparation and it sounds like you guys had planned out almost everything that was needed, and as a result from the perspective the attendees it probably seemed to go off without a hitch. The problems you mentioned were things that only the organizer or other team members on this project would have been likely to notice. That’s definitely a good thing, and it’s good that you were able to reflect on this and notice the things you could improve.

    I’m curious about how you and your team followed the project management steps. Were you the project manager on this team, was there someone else filling that role, or was their no clear project manager and instead the whole team just worked together to decide what needed to be done? Clearly you guys did a lot of planning, but did you create a formal project plan or was this done more informally?

    I’m not sure whether or not more planning would have helped foresee the issues that you needed up having with employee participation and the completion of the survey responses. Either way this definitely highlights the importance of that planning phase in project management (Greer, 2010).


    Greer, M. (2010). The Project Management Minimalist:Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects! Laureate Education. Retrieved July 10, 2016 from


    • I was more the PM assistant, but this was more of an informal project so there were no clearly defined roles. No one on the team had professional experience in project management. We learned as we worked through the process. Overall, I thought we were successful but this class helped me see where we could have made some improvements.


  4. Natasha,

    This sounds like a great experience and an overall success. Your evaluation and next steps make sense.

    In my experience, after a presentation, if immediate feedback is requested through a handwritten exit card more people tend to respond. Offering feedback cards initially makes sense. However, in hindsight, using an online survey system does seem like a viable alternative, considering the number of participants. The great news is, you received all that feedback, which can be a challenge on its own!

    Your next suggestion to offer a brief employee training is fantastic. As Charles Murphy (1994, p.10) notes, “It is important that the project manager identify the roles and responsibilities of each team member.” Though Portny et al. (2008) remark, by using a Statement of Work “project managers and their teams commit to producing certain results (p.43);” for your project, a SOW may not have been applicable. Thus, offering a brief training is a nice way to establish employee expectations and attendance may be viewed as a commitment to meet those given expectations.
    It seems you have already thought through your next steps, so your next projects should be increasingly successful!

    Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials. Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9-11.

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  5. Garth Thorpe

    Vida, Good summary. You made a clear statement sharing that, “we did not plan for, the overwhelming responses from the participants’ survey cards and how to follow through with needs or requests for services.” While this can be seen as a negative issue it also could have been avoiding if these voices from the organization had been made known from the start. Portny et al., (2008) states that those who “will work on a project or will be affected by its outcome are more likely to support the project if they’re confident that the project team hears their concerns and issues” (p.67). Allowing the voices of the group to be heard early on will save you time and effort later when things need to be changed. I know what I’m supposing is hypothetical and hindsight is always 20/20, but allowing the participants voices to be heard before training can be done.

    Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


  6. Vida,

    Your event sounds like a great time was had by all!

    Certainly, there was a lot of planning, formal and informal conversations, and sweat to bring the event into fruition.

    Your idea for a training on professional behavior sounds like a part of a kickoff meeting, explaining expectations up front. I am wondering if the project’s participants (drivers, supporters, etc) have personal relationships and expected everyone to do their job to the fullest? Sometimes using a Work Order Agreement may seem too formal for friends; however, everyone will know in advance what their entire role details and “getting caught up” in the excitement is not a part of their role. LOL!

    I noticed that in both of our projects we forgot subtasks. I am thinking of using a Workbreak down structure to help me not forget important but overlooked components of personal and professional projects. Do you think your organization would use stand-alone specialty software to plan their next conference?

    Additionally,I like the vibe of your blog. The colors are bold and fresh against the black backdrop.


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Instructional Design learning

Thoughts of a Novice Instructional Designer

A record of my thoughts as I explore the field of instructional design.

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