After a programme or project closes a number of post-programme or post-project reviews are necessary.

What is a post programme (or project) review?

Two main reviews

There are two main reviews which should take place after a planned programme or project activity has been completed. These are:

  • a review of how the programme or project was managed
  • a review of overall programme or project success

For both types of review, collection and communication of relevant lessons learned is a key component. For projects, the latter review usually takes place six to eighteen months after project closure. This allows the organisation time to embed and exploit the new capability that has been delivered.

In the case of programmes, much longer timescales are involved. A number of reviews, typically at the end of each tranche, during the lifetime of the programme are recommended, as well as a final review at programme closure.

For both programmes and projects a comparison of costs incurred and benefits being realised against the projected costs and benefits in the business case, are important components of the review. In the case of projects subject to Gateway review, the post project review provides an important input into the Gateway 5 Review process.

Purpose of post programme and project reviews

The main purpose of post programme or project review is to examine and provide evidence of the value of return on the investment made. This applies to both the programme or project under review and, in the form of lessons learned, for future programmes and projects. In projects, although planned for and scheduled as part of the closure process, the review itself is not part of the project.

Programmes are different in that reviews should be scheduled at key points throughout the programme, after a step-change in capability has been delivered. The final post programme review should be scheduled as part of the formal programme closure process.

As well as assessing the benefits already being realised, it should assess how well the programme blueprint has been delivered. A further review may be necessary to include any benefits that were not ready for measurement at programme closure. The business change manager has an important role to play in providing information on benefits measurement.

Guidance and terminology

There is a need to explain and clarify the terminology being used in the NI public sector to describe the various types of post programme and project reviews being undertaken.

The terms used in construction procurement (informed by the Achieving Excellence guidance) are slightly different to those used in a more generic programme and project management context.

The various terms used are set out below along with some explanation for each. Templates are available to help with these processes.

Programme review

Reviews should be carried out throughout the programme, typically at end-of-tranche. Monitoring of benefits realisation is a key focus for these reviews.

An additional review should be carried out at closure to assess delivery against the programme blueprint. A further review (following programme closure) may be necessary to provide complete assessment of benefits realisation.

Project evaluation review

A PER is carried out to assess how well the project has been managed. It is the overall term for a review that incorporates an end of project report and a lessons learned report.

Post project review

A PPR assesses the realisation of benefits projected in the business case and monitored or tracked as described in the benefits realisation strategy.

Any deviations from what was expected should be documented and explained. PPR is an important input for a Gateway 5 Review. DoF Supply require sight of PPRs for all projects above delegated limits.

End project report

An EPR is really the project manager’s report to the project board documenting how well the project was managed against the Project Initiation Document (PID). It should comment on approved changes to the PID and cover any exceptions.

It also should comment on how well the customer’s quality expectations have been met. It is produced as part of the formal project closure process and should cover assessment of any benefits which are already being realised.

Lessons learned report

Lessons that have been captured during the course of the project should be written up formally in the LLR. Content may include abnormal events, performance of methods and tools, recommended future enhancements or modifications - generally what went well or badly.

Project lessons learned should be communicated into the wider organisation, as part of an overall capture and publication process for lessons learned.

Post implementation review

PIR is a term sometimes used collectively to describe all post project activity including post evaluation review and post project review. It is also used in construction for a review equating to the generic post project review.

Post programme and project review roles and responsibilities

The main post programme and post project review roles and responsibilities are:

  • senior responsible owner - responsible for commissioning and chairing the post programme or project review, ensuring that relevant staff are involved and the review report is sent to appropriate stakeholders; in programmes, the SRO is responsible for commissioning reviews at appropriate points throughout the programme in addition to formal closure
  • programme manager or project manager - responsible for making sure lessons learned are recorded in an ongoing basis; also responsible for producing the project evaluation review, for passing it to the project board and may be involved in the post project review process
  • programme or project management office - responsible for providing any standard templates that exist for the project initiation document, risk, issue and quality logs, end stage reports, updated plans or highlight reports or other documents.
  • business managers - responsible for addressing any business level recommendations being made in post project reviews and for communicating and overseeing action in business areas, especially related to the transition from the project to new business as usual arrangements
  • all staff - responsible for feeding back into the review process on the new capability delivered by the project - staff should also be aware of the need to record and communicate lessons learned and to reference them when starting up activity for which lessons may be available
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