Post-mortems are useful for a number of reasons. Whether there’s a project that needs to be reviewed or an annual roundup of how the business performed, these meetings are essential to keep tabs on your business and its progress With 2019 right around the corner, it’s time for businesses to conduct their post-mortem meetings to determine how they did on their projects this year.

According to CHAOS Manifesto, more than 90 percent of businesses conduct a post-mortem or retrospective at the conclusion of a project. This is because they offer valuable insight into how your business is doing, what’s working well, and what it could do without. It also demonstrates how well team members and creatives work together as a unit to communicate and complete important tasks.

Post-mortem meetings are an opportunity to dig deep into the process of planning, molding, and creating a project. It allows you to assess what brings about benefits and positive outcomes for better results. The most important thing to focus on is what you and your team could do better the next time around.

If you’re planning on holding a post-mortem for your company, here are a few tips to get started.

Make them part of your regular routine

A lot of companies overlook conducting regular continuous post-mortems because they think too many of them is unnecessary and a waste of time, but that depends on how a meeting is conducted. Without proper planning, of course, it’s going to be wasteful and unnecessary.

Having regular meetings that get straight to the point and are helpful in nature give you greater awareness and insight as to what will improve your business. These meetings can — and should — be part of your regular routine for projects big, small, and ongoing.

Organizing brief post-mortems as a project is being worked on ensures that there are optimum communication and cohesion between team members. There’s a higher chance of catching a problem before it turns into a bigger, irreversible one and also lessens any confusion there may be.

It’s best to conduct the final and conclusive post-mortem meeting shortly after the project has finished. You want all the details about it fresh in people’s minds so you can easily identify issues and what worked well. Pick a date within the same week the project finishes and schedule it within that time frame.

Gather feedback beforehand

If your post-mortem is going to be at full productivity, you need to already have an idea of what your team members think and how to move forward in the future to ensure both the business and clients stay happy.

One of the best ways to do this is to create a survey or questionnaire and send it to all team members who were part of the project. Rather than simply ask what worked, what didn’t, and for general feedback, try to be as specific as possible in your approach. The more information you gather, the better. For example, it’s important to breakdown the goals. Instead of simply reflecting on your marketing goal, break it down to “email marketing,” “content marketing,” “SEO,” etc.

Some examples of questions to ask about your post-mortem are:

  • What were the goals and were they met? How could they have been reached more effectively?
  • Was the schedule followed and the deadline met? Why or why not?
  • Were there enough check-ins between team members and managers to ensure the fluidity and success of the project?
  • What difficulties and obstacles got in the way of achieving our goal?
  • Was there enough preparedness and direction at the start of the project to achieve success?
  • Was communication clear and helpful? Why or why not?
  • Were issues handled effectively?
  • What aspects of the project could have been completed more efficiently?

Take notes

No one’s going to be able to remember every important thing that was said, so it’s best to take notes. It’s wise for everyone to participate in note taking, but either way, if you’re not in charge of documenting important points of the meeting, then assign someone who will be so that nothing gets left out.

According to a study by UCLA and Princeton psychologists, taking notes by hand is more effective for learning and processing information than using a laptop or other digital device. Though there’s nothing wrong with using a computer to take notes, it shouldn’t be frowned upon to use longhand.

Focus on key points and takeaways for your notes. List the problems your team encountered and what they did to fix them. If there was no solution, discuss why. Evaluate what could have been done better and how, as a team, you’ll work together so the problem doesn’t reoccur.

By documenting your post-mortem, you’re able to look it over whenever you need actionable advice or guidance. You can see what went wrong so that you don’t repeat those mistakes and take after the steps that led to success instead. Refer back to your document when you need to make sure tasks are being completed on time, future goals are on the road to being met, and effective change is taking place.

What’s next

If there’s a lack of cohesion in your workflow, it’s time to revamp your post-mortem meeting strategy. You need all heads working together to go in the same direction and that’s difficult to achieve when there’s no focus. Organizing a meeting with questions in hand, conducting them regularly, and documenting what happens are some of the best ways to get the most productivity out of a post-mortem. What are some ways you’d run a successful meeting?