How to run a Post Implementation Review (PIR)

Have you ever run a Post Implementation Review (PIR) or seen one run?
I like to run PIR’s in an informal way.  Why? Because I find that I get more out of people than when I have very formal processes and protocols about the way that they are run.

For me a Post Implementation Review is about two things.  What worked and what didn’t work.

What I usually do is ensure that I have the right people in the room.  This is an important key step.  It is no good having a bunch of people in the room, who were not directly involved in the project.  You won’t get the real value out of the Post Implementation Review if you do that.

Ensure that you have key people from your project team in the room. These are your business owner, project manager, stream leads, SME or SME’s, and Project Control Board members.  It might also be worth considering holding several smaller sessions rather than one big one with more than ten people in it. You might hold one session for the non technical people, and another for the technical people. You would do this so that you hear equally from everyone present.  It is important to gather each and every persons point of view.  They will all have very valuable insights to offer.

Ask what worked

I open the session by explaining that I am creating a safe space for everyone to speak their honest truth.  All items discussed are taken without blame or as personal.  This allows those present to consider for themselves the level that they participate at. I then start by asking the question of ‘What worked?’

People usually have the answers to this question readily available and I like to work with the positives first.

Having a whiteboard and a scribe are valuable, as people tend to get on a roll with talking about the good things and you want someone to capture them as they come up.  Jot down all of the things that are said.  It doesn’t matter if there are double ups, you can always put ticks besides items that get mentioned by more than one person.  Scan the room and ensure that you have captured a statement from everyone in the room.  Even if they say, “my pluses” have all been captured by others, get them to articulate which ones and mark them.

If the group are slow to offer up items, you can ask some prompting questions, for example..

  • “What worked with the way that the team interacted?”
  • “What worked with the communication delivered?
  • “What worked with the way that the business requirements were documented?”

These sorts of questions will help prompt the team to consider aspects of the projects management.

Next I get everyone to reflect on the list.  By taking this few extra minutes you might find that additional things are raised.

What didn’t work

I then move onto the “What didn’t work?”  If need be I start with a clean whiteboard for this.  And again I prompt for responses if the team are slow to respond.  Usually by this time this isn’t a problem though, because the team feel comfortable in each others presence and have gained a level of trust in speaking honestly and openly about what has occurred.  Again, once this list is documented it is important to give everyone the opportunity to reflect on the contents for a few minutes to see if anything else can be added.

The Post Implementation Review sessions that I have run have provided very valuable insights into how things could be done differently next time.  A number of team members/stream leads has gained insight into one thing that they could do differently to make a difference on the next project.

This is the key of using the valuable information gathered from a PIR.  It is no good running PIR sessions if the information is captured and then not used.  Get teams to take on board the information provided by asking them how they could turn these insights into action items.  What could they change?  How could they interact differently?

What insights did they gain from the session?

Post Implementation Reviews’s are very valuable, but only if the information gathered is valued and put to use.



Written by Karen Munro