End of stage project reviews – lost opportunity?

Many people use stages to organise their projects. These stages provide a great vision for the project and provide the building blocks to success.

When I ask people on our project management courses what happens at the end of each stage I frequently get a shrug of the shoulders and the comment; “We move onto the next stage!” Rarely do I get a comment such as: we sit down and review the project, looking at how we can improve the way we deliver etc. OK, the words are a bit trite but you get the point…..

This is really a lost opportunity. Dividing the project into stages helps (among other things) in the overall monitoring and control of the project.

The end of stage review should include:

  • reviewing the overall project plan based on the stage that has just finished
  • checking and reviewing the risk log and stakeholder log – are there any aspects missed off or risks or stakeholder issues not being managed well?
  • identifying and reporting exceptions and looking at the implication of these exceptions
  • identifying learning, including how the team is working together
  • checking with the client and stakeholders that quality standards are as agreed

One aspect that links to the stage process is for the project board (or sponsor) to receive a report on the end of stage. This links well with my recent blog called “Do you have Gates in Your Project?

I have often suggested that the project team should use an external person (external to the project, say an internal facilitator) for their end of stage reviews. The review should go beyond the meeting and beyond the report. The review should start with the facilitator speaking to key players including project board members, project manager and sponsor as well as client and stakeholder. That way the project is getting that 360° view that is so important. Without it, you are getting a 180° view or even less

Not having end of stage reviews is a lost opportunity. I would advocate having an agreement with the client and stakeholders to hold an end of stage review, one in which they play a prominent role.

The interesting aspect that I find is that people are always busy and in meetings. Why not have a meeting about the end of a stage?

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