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LPM, Part 8: The Review Stage

The last stage of LPM – the review stage – is perhaps the most easily forgotten. A common reaction to a project’s successful end might be a celebration, a sigh of relief, and a bit of hindsight bias. Success! We did it! Job well done. It’s great to celebrate. It’s actually a very necessary part of finishing any job. But in the review stage, there are a few last-minute critical tasks to complete before the celebration should start.

Chief among these tasks is to “sign off”, or confirm that the project is complete. A sense of finality can be reassuring for stakeholders, particularly clients. It can also keep you and your team organized in the home stretch. Signal to all stakeholders that the project is finished and that now is the time to take care of all minor issues that remain. This may be a simple stage. It may only consist of a simple reminder for team members to finish all time entry as you deliver the final product to the client. This is still vital. The review stage is not about reinventing the wheel: even new project managers know what a finished project looks like. But some things may get lost in the shuffle. This final blog post on LPM will help you stay focused on some key communication and organization tasks that signify the true end of a successful LPM project.

Debriefing

A good debrief in the review stage can illuminate areas of focus for the next projects your team tackles. The following questions may pertain to the planning, execution, or monitoring and measurement stages:

  • Did we accomplish what we needed to accomplish for the client?
  • Is the client satisfied with our work?
  • What went wrong?
  • What went right?
  • Where can we improve project cohesion in the future?
  • What did team members learn on this project?
  • How did our work breakdown structure function?
  • Did our timekeeping and billing procedures keep costs down?

These questions should not be asked willy-nilly. Organize a meeting. Bring all team members together. At the end of a project, create an environment for open-ended discussion. Talk about issues that came up during the project, problems that presented. Workshop with your team how to nip these problems in the bud for next time. With any project, build on what you’ve learned to maximize future value.

Anonymous feedback and answers to these questions may work better for certain teams. Regardless, a team meeting at the end of the project, to go over questions like this and field a discussion, is an important review tool. A face-to-face meeting creates a better sense of an organized finality to a project. Project leaders should lead an open-ended group discussion with probing, insightful questions to get at the heart of what team members thought about how the project progressed from stage to stage.

If team member performance needs to be critiqued, remember to do so in private. A one-on-one performance meeting is better for morale, and won’t derail an otherwise smoothly run group discussion.

Clients

Get clients involved in the review and closure of a project, as well. They will have valuable thoughts about the project outcome. Chief among these thoughts is whether the client felt their needs were met. If yes, great! If not, a good project manager needs to ask what could be done better on future projects. A client will almost certainly be happy to tell you what they thought went wrong.

This client feedback isn’t only good because of what you can learn and improve in your LPM implementation. Conversations like these can also create an environment of collegial discussion, and open the door for future business with the client. Even if they had some issues and problems with the project, your attention may convince them to stick with your services in the future. Never underestimate the personal touch.

Knowledge Management

The principles of knowledge management (KM) align closely with the prerogatives of the monitoring and measurement stage. KM places importance on measuring and cataloguing all company data that can be expressed in metrics. This data will help facilitate the review stage, and help you and your team refine your LPM objectives going forward.

The team group discussion is a great moment for knowledge sharing. By encouraging the open sharing of knowledge, you discourage potential “knowledge hoarders” on your team. Explain to team members that withholding information from the KM pipeline will be detrimental to future projects.

Don’t just share knowledge, of course. Have some method of saving project documents and conversations. The former can be saved in things like checklists, spreadsheets, dashboards, and templates. The latter can be saved via email, memos, meeting minutes, or even recordings of meetings. “KM capture” – data capture – is integral to the review stage.

LPM Conclusion

  1. Design and Definition
  2. Planning (part 1, and part 2 here)
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring and Measurement
  5. Review

Our first two overview posts can be found here and here.

There are thousands of tiny details to LPM that this blog simply can’t cover. What we can do, though, is provide these helpful guideposts that emphasize the importance of LPM. Project management in general has become more and more pervasive in all sectors of the economy, and legal – though sometimes resistant to change – is no exception. Remember to communicate with your team, to organize your tech tools, and find new and productive ways to utilize team members’ skillsets. Confront problems head on. Keep your clients and other stakeholders in the loop. Delegate responsibilities appropriately. Develop your own tricks and tips as you gain experience using LPM. Above all, remember that good LPM means setting project goals, and meeting those goals.

This is the conclusion of our series on Legal Project Management. Click for part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, or part 7.

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