Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

Eight month ago, my project manager accepted a tasking for Instructional design development for a government project. The project was given to use from North Division whose project manager abandoned the project to take a new job. Leaving the division and its team members frustrated about what steps to take next, they called upon our division (South) to take on the project. North Divisions responsibilities were to develop and deliver face-to-face course materials for six-hour training. They were also tasked to create a web based training using the same materials from the F2F.

My PM decided to hold a WebEx conference with the team from North Division to evaluate the RFP, tasking, project duration, technical information, resources remaining, etc. Over the next eight months, the project became my responsibility to develop, program, and deploy. I had been promoted a month prior and sought the guidance of senior ID’s to assist in various stages of applying the Evaluation process of ADDIE where the previous team lacked in consistent terminal and enabling objectives.

As I read through the ID portions of the tasking, the client wanted me to take a 6 hour face-to-face course and convert into 1-2 hour WBT.  I figured if I could get my wheels turning on a good evaluation plan of the project, the chances of minimizing the total course time, would be of great impact to the client.

To make a long story short, I was able to successfully finish all project deliverables but the project had to be reworked, leaving us over budget. I believe this could have been easily avoided if we were able to contribute to the analysis phase of the process. I would have been able to stress the importance of this stage and budgeted the funding to accommodate for a good plan. At that time, I would have discussed reopening and readjusting life/cycle. I would have also gotten all of the key players involved early on in the process. The SME’s, client management, and  training staff were busy teaching the F2F course, therefore, I didn’t have an extensive relationship with them until 2 months later into the project.

Having only the materials given to me from the North Division, the course suffered continuity in training terminology, content that correlated with the learning objectives, and assessment materials. I believe that if I were able to arrange a visit to actually sit in and recorded one of the F2F courses to gain knowledge of the course content as whole, the project would have been more successful.

In conclusion, the client realized that they lacked involvement in the projects success. I was able to get the client to extend the deadline for the delivery of the course. They recorded the F2F course for evaluation, scheduled two office visits, contributed to storyboard, media, and project management. Three months later, I delivered an Alpha review, received better feedback, and was able to post the Beta version on their test server for peer review.


4 comments on “Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

  1. Hi Willie,
    It sounds as if you did a very good job on a difficult task. You were new to your role and you had to take over a project that had already started. That’s a tough combination.

    How did you handle getting 6 hours of live instruction into 1-2 hours of WBT? Were you forced to sacrifice content? Did the WBT include sufficient assessment time for the learners?


  2. Hello,

    It seems like it always comes down to money and budgets! It’s seems so true that we can accomplish anything design wise if money wasn’t an issue. I think that it’s important to realize issue in project and look back on them after the projects over. “It’s important for project managers and team members to take stock at the end of a project and
    develop a list of lessons learned so that they don’t repeat their mistakes in the next project.” (Greer, 2010 p. 42)

    So over budget maybe an issue on this project, but next time you will have a reference point to benchmark against.

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

  3. Hi Willie, You contributions to the North Division became an asset to the final team project. The frustration of picking up the pieces could be challenging as well. Your expertise demonstrated the organizational skills required to complete an enormous project. I agree with you, stakeholders could have made the transition smoother if you had the opportunity to sit in on the course content delivery. You truly had major barriers “scope-creepers” dropped on you! Nevertheless, I believe I am learning a wealth of information from your work experiences – appreciate your effort!
    You must be greatly appreciated and valued at the office!

  4. Congratulations Willie on your project! As a transforming instructional designer, there is the need for me to read and learn from real life situations from someone like you who is more experienced in the field. Through reading about project management from this week’s resources, it is clear that you knew what you hope to accomplish in the project and believed it was possible.

    However, money, which is the power for opening any door, is definitely needed to get to the other side of the door. Additionally, it is crucial for project managers and team members to go back and review from their previous projects as they learn their mistakes and avoid them in the future projects.

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