Experiences with Conducting Project Postmortems: Reports vs. Stories and Practitioner Perspective


The most popular unit of work in organizations is a project. Managing knowledge in and about projects is salient for successful project management. Explicit knowledge is easier to manage than tacit knowledge as it is an outcome of work. Tacit knowledge is abstract and is managed in a cursory mode in projects. In this paper, we will discuss how postmortems can be used to capture tacit experiences in projects. Conducting a postmortem, either after a milestone or at the end of a project, is salient in order to gauge what has been learnt, what were the main issues faced, and what can be used to improve the processes of work in the future. The conducting of postmortems aids in articulation of tacit experiences into explicit forms, this enables for experiences to be better reused in the future. Re-using of postmortem findings depends heavily on the nature of the postmortem outcome. We will compare two kinds of postmortem outcomes – traditional reports and stories. Management must choose the right kind of postmortem report to calibrate depending on the project and learning outcomes. We also highlight lessons learnt from conducting postmortem reviews in several software organizations.

DOI: 10.1109/HICSS.2005.256

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@inproceedings{Desouza2005ExperiencesWC, title={Experiences with Conducting Project Postmortems: Reports vs. Stories and Practitioner Perspective}, author={Kevin C. Desouza and Torgeir Dings\oyr and Yukika Awazu}, booktitle={HICSS}, year={2005} }