Your project is mostly done. You’ve designed & tested it, it’s live & works. The gears are whirring on their axels just the way you wanted and your final invoice is paid.
But before you move on to the next project, or your next looming deadline, did you happen to review your operations and the project you just finished. A post-project launch review/audit, in our words, A Project Post-Mortem, is basically just analysing tasks in your head that you have performed, or discussing with your partner over a cup of tea.
Try googling the term “Post-Launch Review“ and you will get thousands of results of businesses boasting success stories with a great post launch audit or offering to do yours for a fee. However, we believe that you make sure to do your own real and private assessment.
Discussed below is our take on the Project Post-Mortem, and how you can turn it into a positive and productive practise. Dezine Geek’s “what & why” overview is with the intent to help you break down evaluation processes into measurable parts, to be specific, write down stuff and make your upcoming prospects even better.
1) What Went Great?
Highlight a few things that went really great in the project you just did. You may also try to find out the exact reasons why that happened. The specifics for such achievements are really important and if you think that they were possible just because you are awesome, then you need to rethink your successes a little more.
For example; your success in strengthening the brand through its smallest details can be because you spent more time in researching about your client’s business, their history and future vision.
For some the step “what went great” is tempting one to gloss over, but it’s really important if you want to turn your experience into craftsmanship. This is the reason this step gets our #1 spot. Always remember to force yourself come up with 5 things that went great in the project, even if you only get to the details of about one or two.
2) What Went Wrong?
Now that you can name some of the details that went right and your morale is high, ponder over the stuff that went wrong- And how you can do it differently the next time.
From communications with the client to the operations, jot down everything that you feel could have happened more efficiently.
If you had some issues with the client, consider which of their character clues you can recognize next time. You may also want to be more alert around new clients who balked at your quotation. This can be a warning that such projects will actually cost you in revisions and stress more that it earns.
Furthermore, look for easier solutions to the age-old problem of “last minute changes”. Again, if there are areas which you think you could have handled differently or through some new skill sets, identify the specifics and plan to take it to the next level.
3) Stash Your Creative Assets
With the next looming deadline coming close, or a new project breathing down your neck, this is another important step which can be forgotten. Stash those last minute assets which you made but fell to the wayside as the project was nearing completion or the things were rushed. Was there some great piece of design, illustration or artwork that you made but got dropped, archive it with your other royalty free resources, or wherever you’ll be able to find it easily.
File all the resources, printouts, purchased photos, fonts and templates in clearly marked folders and backup the whole project.
4) Update Your Portfolio
Organize and upload your best work. If you think that the architecture and page layout of this website clearly showcases your creativity, then give it some polish and let the rest of the world appreciate it as well.
Now remember that this step ties closely with our #2 step as well. For example, if a project or the client gave you tough time and the project seems like a waste of time, then consider posting the nice set of illustrations you created and post those in your portfolio.
5) Stay Informed About The Project
Even if you freelance, it’s still in your best interest to stay informed and keep yourself updated about your past project and its status. This will not only help you create longer-term relationship with your clients but also improve your future work.Because of an ongoing conversation with a client, they are more likely to come to you for revisions.
Although, it might be unpleasant to know that some of your features were problematic for a project, but this knowledge will save you from committing the same mistake again and help you avoid any more unpleasant situations.
If you have somewhat skipped the documentation of your project, then spare some time and do it now. Documentation helps you leave “tracks” which will help you if you are asked to handle revisions.
For newbies, documentation will provide assistance in learning patterns, style sheets, rules etc. If there is a management above you and no documentation strategy is adopted, do what you can to convince them in giving you some time where you can do yours. However, if you are independent then it’s your job to make documentation a priority.
The knowledge of the Good & the Bad of a project which make you improvise, is the #1 cause of successfully concluding a project. But in the ever changing web, always make sure to establish and continue evolving your technique to Project Post-Mortem.
But, it has been seen that some professionals and even companies which lose cross functionality can tragically blow this practice and turn post-mortem into a frightening blame game. This is because, we all have tendencies to hold onto bad stuff, letting it worry and weigh us down while disregarding the good stuff. With a more conscious process of project post mortem, we can not only harvest valuable ideas from the entire project, but also inhibit this negative trend and make our work greater.