Thursday, January 17, 2013

Learning from a Project “Post-Mortem”

It is very effective for project managers and their teams to review the project when it is complete to determine lessons learned. This way they can learn from their successes and failures to make improvements in future projects (Greer, 2010).

                The project that I am going to do a post-mortem on for my class is one that I did at work recently. As the Bar-Code Medication Administration (BCMA) Coordinator at my hospital, I suggested purchasing new wristbands that could include the patients’ color photograph, several options to color-code different risks or warnings, and the bar-code for our BCMA software, and they would not need the clasps to fasten them. Patient identification is a top priority in the health-care field, especially for medication administration. I had suggested this project before, but was unable to get the buy-in needed for the additional cost. This time I had the Patient Safety Manager (PSM) giving support for it. Also, another facility in our network had already implemented them and there was talk of all of our facilities in our network converting to them, which, in fact, is now in process.

Greer (2010, p.5) identifies ten steps for project success as follows:

1.       Define the project concept, then get support and approval.

2.       Get your team together and start the project.

3.       Figure out exactly what the finished work products will be.

4.       Figure out what you need to do to complete the work products. (Identify tasks and phases.)

5.       Estimate time, effort, and resources.

6.       Build a schedule.

7.       Estimate the costs.

8.       Keep the project moving.

9.       Handle scope changes.

10.   Close out phases, close out the project.


Acting as project manager (PM), I was able to get the support of our upper management by working with the PSM and the BCMA committee. I worked with the vendor to find out what would be required and gathered a team which included the PSM, representatives from Information Technology (IT), nursing, laboratory, and upper management. Most of the team was on board for the early process, but the latter work was mostly from IT, the vendors, nursing, and me. The vendors were very helpful in identifying the tasks, schedules, and costs. For the most part, this project went fairly smoothly and was eventually successful.

Lessons Learned

However, there were some things that could have been done better. Although, I had approval of upper management, I did struggle some with the chief of our IT department in trying to get things to move on schedule. I should have had more support from his boss and him. Also, I was new at ordering equipment, software, licenses through our system. Having someone more knowledgeable in that area would have helped immensely. I had to get assistance from logistics with it, but it was a learning experience. They also had to assist once the equipment was in to make sure all of the paperwork was completed. I could have used more support as well in getting the team to all of the meetings. However, when there is limited staff in an area and they are responsible for multiple projects, there were competing demands on their time (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).

One thing that I did not consider well was being able to print from our test account. For BCMA training, I always created test patients with wristbands and medications from our test account. I was so worried about getting everything to work in production that I forgot about test account. We can still get them with our old wristband printers, but I am working on having IT develop test patients in our production account for me as I found another facility that already has these wristbands currently do. Maybe that was actually a ‘Freudian slip’ since I had wanted them to do that for years, but they said it could not be done. Maybe it will finally get done after all.



Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

 Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Hi, Nancy.

    This was an interesting post-mortem analysis. Each of those steps for project success are very important for project managers to keep in mind. As the PM, you defined the project concept clearly enough to get support from upper management (Greer, 2010). Perhaps you could have utilized a work breakdown structure (WBS) to help you with ordering equipment, software, and licenses. The WBS is designed to help break down a project into manageable chunks that can be effectively estimated and supervised (Allen & Hardin, 2008). Included are steps to design, develop, and produce learning materials for each instructional objective. There are also various ways to combat project conflicts with various members of the organizations. In the analysis phase, it is very important to identify each of the stakeholders related to the project. Early agreed-upon meetings should be conducted with all of the stakeholders, along with a series of conversations, brainstorming sessions, and other formal or informal discussions about the project concept (Greer, 2010).


    Allen, S., & Hardin, P. C. (2008). Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(2), 72–97.

    Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.