This article looks to discuss project reviews and traditional project management. Discussing the different types of reviews, including project evaluation reviews, gate reviews, audits, post project reviews, and benefits realisation reviews. Covering the importance of project reviews and the need to learn lessons throughout the project. Finally discussing the benefits of performing reviews.

Often times, project managers get overloaded with tasks that it becomes quite difficult to for them and everyone in the team to keep up with all that’s happening, especially if there are multiple projects underway. In order to keep the team on track, and for project managers to be able to make sure things are going according to plan, a project review is conducted once the team has completed a phase in the project. A review gives the team and the project manager a chance to look at how things went and to understand what made the phase successful, including the challenges along the way and how these were addressed.

The 5 Types of Project Review

There are different phases for every project, and for each of these phases, there is an appropriate type of review to be performed. The purpose of these reviews is to assess the success of a project phase and to ensure that the next phase will begin with everything in the right place. It also helps the team gauge the validity of the project and assess its current status, making it possible for the manager to make changes and improvements, if there’s a need to. Let’s look at each of the review types below.

  • Gate Reviews

Before the project is given the go signal, a Gate Review is conducted for the apporval of the funding for the project. This is usually done after defining the purpose of the project, where the project manager, the sponsor/s, and stakeholders discuss the feasibility, as well as the benefits of the project. In some instances, projects get denied and these either go back to the drawing board or go to the no-go file.

  • Phase Evaluation Reviews

As mentioned earlier, projects are usually divided into phases. These makes project completion more manageable, and each of these phases go through a phase evaluation review. This is to compare the progress and the project plan side-by-side, to see if the milestones and goals set are met, as the work goes along. The main goal of this review is to ensure that the project and the team handling it are given the support that is needed to keep the work moving to the next stage. This is where areas of opportunities are identified and addressed, and the necessary improvements are set in place. It also helps in identifying potential challenges in the next stages, and allow the team to prevent the same issues from reoccuring, as early as possible.

  • Peer Reviews

The purpose of this review is to assess if the current map offers the best route to reach the goal of the project. This is usually done by another person or a group of people who are on the same level with the project manager. This can occur at anytime within a project phase, and can sometimes be integrated with quality control.  

  • Benefits Realisation Reviews

Once the project has been handed over and accepted by the client, a benefits realisation review is conducted to see if the project is working as expect and if the expected benefits are actually being delivered. This review reveals how effective the project is and serve as blueprint for similar or other related future projects.

  • Post Project Reviews

This is also done at the end of the project, just like the benefits realisation review. This one, however, focuses on the processes. This is to see if the project was done according to proper guidelines and was in compliance with work standards. Corrective actions will be issued for any deviation that resulted into errors or issues that produced undesirable outcomes for the project. The main purpose of this is to correct the factors that had any negative impact to the project, be it on the people, the process, or the product. Task management, personal behaviour, and processes are some of the factors considered during a post project review.

Why are Project Reviews Important and Why do We Need them?

Project reviews serve as gatekeepers and a form quality control procedure that constantly checks the viability of the project. Reviews are meant to show whether the project is still worth investing in or if it needs to be halted and direct its resources towards a more viable, feasible project. All projects are developed and approved based on the benefits stated by the project owner during its case creation. Reviews conducted at each phase of the project ensures that as the work progresses, the project is moving towards the right direction and is on its way to realising the benefits that were stated from the get-go.

Aside from keeping an organisation from continuing to invest in a project that is no longer viable, the results from each review is vital in the improvement of processes, managing team and individul behavior. It also helps in improving the team’s ability to identify potential issues and act faster when it comes to finding and implementing solutions, which makes project management more efficient and more effective.

When it comes to assessing the risks and assuring the stakeholders of the progress and viability of the project, a report can be made based on the results of a review. It yields a structured and factual report that can be used during meetings with stakeholders, sponsors, and the client.

Reviews also provide information that project managers can use as basis for taking any appropriate steps, if there is a need to make changes to the plan or a different approach is required, in order to ensure the success of the project.

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Organisational Learning through Project Reviews

One other important benefit of project reviews is organisational learning. Managers learn from experience and are able to see what works and what doesn’t, how to overcome challenges and how to solve problems.  Post project reviews, for example, help organisations learn from audit results, which they can use to become fully compliant and avoid corrective actions in the future.

These records can also be used when presenting the case to sponsors and stakeholders, as proof of experience and to show a track record of successful projects handled by the team. During an ongoing project, reviews provide managers an overveiw of how the project is doing, which allows them to steer it in the right direction, and provide concrete data to assure stakeholders, sponsors, and clients that the project is progressing as it should.

Peer Reviews

Peer reviews provide information on how an organisation can improve behavior management, technology, processes, and planning. And because this type of review is done by a third party, managers can learn new ways and techniques that they can use to improve their own style of management. The third party experts involved in performing the review not only provide information that can improve the technical side of the project but also provide mentoring in their area of expertise, which is extremely valuable for managers.

As the organisation continues to learn from experience and mentoring by experts, they develop good practice and refine their methodologies. These are normally compiled and used for learning materials, including case studies and possibly, used as a guide for similar future projects or for general guidance.

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Section 7: Organisation Structure and Roles

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