Colorado State University Management Discussion Questions


          According to Martinelli & Milosevich (2016), ?the 

project post mortem is a review of a project after the project closure 

acceptance after all project closure activities are complete, and after 

the project has been in operational mode for a period of time? (p. 

366).  The PM was tasked to perform a postmortem review on a software 

project.  The project involved the development and implementation of 

portfolio management software to manage a portfolio of projects that 

were implemented internationally.  Unfortunately, the project failed. 

Postmortem Review

           The PM must ensure that a postmortem review is held for  every project, whether it is successful or not (Harned, 2019).   Postmortem reviews involve three steps.  Martinelli & Milosevich  (2016) state that these steps include gathering feedback from project  and operational teams; organizing and facilitating a meeting between  teams and the key stakeholders; and capturing the meeting outcomes in a  postmortem report.  The PM documented the steps taken to conduct a  postmortem review for the failed software project:

  • Jack, an engineer from an unrelated department, was assigned to  gather feedback in preparation for the postmortem meeting. Jack sent out  web-based surveys to gather the information. 
  • Sam, an experienced facilitator, was assigned to conduct the  postmortem meeting. He met with Jack, reviewed the information, and set  up the meeting. 
  • The project sponsor, PM, project team, and the facilitator met and discussed the feedback and how to improve future projects.
  • After the meeting, a postmortem report was created, made available  to all interested parties, and added to the organization?s project  archive (Martinelli & Milosevich, 2016).


Harned, B.  (2019, March 25).  Post-Mortem meeting template and tips:  TeamGantt.  Retrieved from…

Martinelli, R. J., & Milosevich, D. Z.  (2016).  Project management toolbox: Tools and techniques for the practicing project manager (2nd ed.).  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons


At the  end of a project life, it is in the best interest in the organization  to complete a postmortem review. According to Martinelli &  Milosevich (2016), a post mortem review assist to determine the success  of the project, effectiveness of the team, and lessons learned (p. 366).

However, not all projects end successfully. In some situations, an  organization might have to make the decision to end a project before it  has been completed. In order to better understand how the project was  not successful, data must be gathered with the assistance of project  stakeholders and document the findings (Williams, Eden, Ackermann,  Howick, Bergamini, Daley, & Gill, 2001). When this is completed, it  provides a learning opportunity to the organization.

An example of a failed project postmortem review could reveal:

  • There was a lack of communication between stakeholders on the state of the project.
  • The organization of the activities was not efficient.
  • Certain activities were assigned to the wrong departments
  • Staying within the boundaries of the scope was lost.
  • The features of the software did not totally meet the needs of the organization.

While this covers some aspects of a postmortem review, this should  not be the only time a project manager reviews the state of a project.  If a project manager is continually reviewing the state of the project  and gathering data for the effort during the closing process, this could  help to prevent project failure. When negative impacts are discovered  earlier, it will be easier for a project manager to implement corrective  actions.


Martinelli, R. J., & Milosevich, D. Z.  (2016).  Project management toolbox: Tools and techniques for the practicing project manager (2nd ed.).  Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons

Williams, T., Eden, C., Ackermann, F., Howick, S., Bergamini, V.,  Daley, A., & Gill, K. (2001). The use of project post-mortems. Paper  presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars &  Symposium, Nashville, TN. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management  Institute.

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