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April 21, 2006

What's Post the PIR?

Many of you will recognize the image below as being the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Specifically, this is the fate of the ark after Indy had been assured that the government had their "best people" studying it.

raiders-lost-ark-warehouse.jpg

This is my mental picture of how the results of most project PIRs (Post Implementation Review) are handled by companies. Either the results of the PIR are filed away in some labrynthine file server, or the project team disbands and they're lost forever. Given the fundamental issues that seem to re-occur within environments that run large numbers of big projects, you would hope to find some organized approach to harnessing this collective experience on future projects, yet I've yet to come across such a beastie so far in my professional life.

Assessing the validity of PIR comments.

Another principle failure of PIRs is that they turn into a veritable love fest due to the inability or reluctance (for political reasons) of people to provide honest, constructive criticism.

To this end, a collegue of mine introduced me to a simple exercise that can be conducted at the beginning of a PIR to get a good guage of the likelihood of the PIR results being a good reflection of the project. The exercise is a quick anonymous survey of the level of comfort people attending the PIR are feeling with respect to their comments. The survey is taken anonymously and the collective results immediately published to the entire group to show how likely the PIR comments will be accurate with respect to the real issues that affected the project.

I'm sure there is a proper term for this type of exercise, but I've been unable to track down any official references after a quick Google. I tend to use the term "Fear Guage" internally, although there are obviously negative connotations around the "fear" aspect of it.

Posted by Andy Marks at April 21, 2006 10:44 AM

Comments

It's called a Safety Exercise. Read Project Retrospectives by Norm Kerth.

I think another issue is the "Post" aspect of the review. It seems better to be reviewing in the midst of implementation when you can actually do something about it rather than looking back at the "carnage" after the fact.

Posted by: Jason Yip at April 22, 2006 08:13 AM

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