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20 Days to a Better Business: Day 14 Hold a PreMortem

20 Days To A Better Business

Each Monday we focus on one activity you can do today or over the next week to build yourself a better business. These short, actionable posts will show you what steps you need to take to take your business to the next level.

In case you’ve missed the previous posts, you can catch up here: 20 Days to Build A Better Business.

This is Day 14: Conduct a PreMortem

When projects go live many of them have a few teething problems. Sometimes projects go completely wrong and there’s a lot of work to fix the problems, or in some situations back out the project.

When the dust has settled many projects have a post project review which is sometimes called a post implementation review or sometimes a project post mortem, where the project manager conducts some navel gazing with the project team to find out what went wrong, what went well and what lessons could be learned for next time.

The trouble with post project reviews

Is that when a project has ended, it’s sometimes difficult to get the team back together. People have moved on to other things or maybe left the company. Another problem is that it’s unlikely that you’ll ever run exactly the same project again, so even though you might learn some valuable lessons, you’ll never get to use them.

But the biggest problem with post project reviews is that they happen after the project when the problems have happeneed.

Imagine if you could tackle any problems before they happened and fix them so they didn’t become a problem after all. Wouldn’t that be a better place to be?

So, instead of holding a review after the project has gone live, hold the review before the project goes live.

Hold a premortem

To hold a project premortem gather the key people involved in the project together and brainstorm all the things that could go wrong.  Then work out solutions to each of the issues you identify so that you can fix them before the issues become major problems when the project has gone live.

On a large project it might be worthwhile holding several project premortems to identify other issues which may have arisen after the first set of issues have been fixed.

Holding a project premortem will make for a far more effective project implementation or product launch.

So, for your next project or launch, ditch the project post mortem and hold a premortem instead.



  • Patricia@lavender oils said:

    Hi Matthew

    That sounds like a good idea. There’s only me in my business but I do have business friends helping me along the way. And with a new project getting sorted at the moment, I will take that on board.

    I do email my figures, keyword research results etc to my mentor so I know I am on the right track so I guess we are doing premortem already 😉

    Patricia Perth Australia

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Patricia, I think you can hold a pre-mortem as a solopreneur. You can gather together people who you trust and ask them to help you brainstorm the project and the possible problems. Then brainstorm the solutions to the problems and you’ll be even better prepared.

    Thanks for the comment, Matthew

  • Henway said:

    A postmortem is pretty depressing… especially if the project took a long time to build. As you said, most of the employees will no longer be there afterwards, and it seems like a way to make everyone feel better. Like oh well, at least we learned something.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    I think that’s very true, possibly also management / project managers hold one because they feel they should.

    Thanks for the comment Henway!