As part of your continuous improvement efforts, your project team should be gathering, analyzing, and acting on project feedback received from stakeholders. Whether they’re customers, sponsors, executives, internal support departments, or even your vendors, your project collaborators can often provide important insight into how well your team is performing and where things need to be improved. Many teams, however, don’t get as much value as they could from the project feedback process because they haven’t put enough structure in place to maximize the benefits.
If your team wants to see if additional performance gains are available, the following questions can help ensure you’re making the best use of project feedback.
Who receives and reviews incoming project feedback?
Questions and concerns should always be handled quickly and the people managing that near-term function need to receive relevant feedback right away. Over the longer term, however, this feedback should also make its way to the project team’s leadership or other designated people so they can maintain a wider view on how the feedback loop is working. They’ll have enough insight into the team’s operations and available resource levels to develop plans to improve problem areas and capitalize on potential opportunities. Once you’ve identified which individuals in the team are best placed to assess inquiries, criticisms, and observations, create a process that ensures all forms of feedback are funneled to them for future review.
When is feedback solicited?
Because time is tight and resources are usually lean, many teams don’t ask customers and other stakeholders for feedback until the project is nearly complete. If that’s your current approach, you may want to look for opportunities earlier in the project’s lifecycle to solicit feedback. End users, for example, have plenty going on with their regular workload and may not remember the questions they had or the challenges they encountered while the project was underway. Begin by identifying one or two milestones in the project schedule and send out short customer surveys after you’ve reached those interim markers. This keeps issues fresh in everyone’s mind and helps you gather feedback in a timely manner.
When is feedback reviewed?
Feedback is commonly reviewed during the project’s post-mortem phase, when activities have wrapped up and the team is looking back over how things went. Unfortunately, teams that focus their feedback analysis efforts to only one master session may be losing out on opportunities to improve. Instead, consider how much more successful your group could be if they incorporated feedback while the project was still ongoing. You may be able to head off negative feedback later by addressing problem areas now, such as when end users complain that a lack of communication left them in the dark on a scheduled work disruption. By reviewing that feedback soon after receipt, PMs can tweak the communication plan and either broaden the user base that receives project notifications or change how they issue outbound communications to disseminate that type of information more effectively.
Are you proactively looking for trends in feedback received across the entire project portfolio?
Examining feedback from a standalone project is a must, but it’s critical that PMs also review feedback as part of the larger portfolio picture. Look for commonalities from one project to the next. See if you’re hearing the same questions or receiving the same grievances during every large project, or during every project that involves a particular type of activity—department relocations, software development, system upgrades, planned outages, etc. These themes can help you focus resources on the areas that are currently lacking, and you may also find opportunities to streamline activities and improve performance across multiple projects.