Learning from a “Project Post-mortem


Learning from a “Project post-mortem.”

When my family relocated to Florida, we lived with my parents for several months.  After almost six months we decided to rent a house for a year.  After renting for one year, we finally decided to purchase a home.  It was exciting to do all the planning and to organize all the details. Planning, organizing, and controlling are three main components of a project manager’s job (Portney et al., 2008, pp. 3-4).  I made a list of everything we needed to do to including the time, and the budget.  Since we were moving across town, we decided to do it ourselves.  This was my first mistake, besides, to doing everything on my own without assigning a role to any of my family members.

The day of the moving came, and we quickly realize we needed help with carrying the heavy furniture; therefore we had to rent a dolly which was not accounted for in the budget. Then because we didn’t recruit any help, it was late at night, and I realize I never contacted the electricity company to have new services install in our new home.  Because of this oversight, we didn’t have any light and couldn’t continue to move.  Therefore, we now have to rent the truck for another day, and on top of that, we had to stay with my mother for a couple of night because we didn’t anticipate this change and we didn’t allow ourselves and overlap in the lease. I should have thought about moving earlier before our lease was up at least a couple of days to spare the stress of an overnight move.

A big mistake on my part and it is something that I have learned from.  If in the future we decide to move again, I would guarantee that mistake would not happen and I will always give ourselves some overlap time for any potential problems.

As the project manager for our moving, I felt like I didn’t deliver.  There were many planning and development mistakes.  I was doing everything on my own and lacked communication with “stakeholders” such as the electric company, cable company and to recruit resources to help with the moving.  I learned that communicating, brainstorming, and collaborating are vital to a successful project (Murphy, 1994).  This is why I failed in this project as a PM.  Besides, I did not provide clear expectations or provided clear roles and responsibilities to each of my team (Murphy, 1994) or family members. To be a successful PM, you need to be clear and make each member responsible.

Although there were bumps along the way, in the end, we were able to get everything done.  Perhaps not on time or within the budget but it was a great learning experience.  I had an excellent organization skill and organized the delivery of new furniture on time and kept everything else running smoothly by using a to-do list which helped me get everything else done on time.  The to-do list helped me to keep organized and have all the necessary information needed to get the rest of the job done.  It helped me to track the budget. All of this experience with this project has helped me learn to “build in time and money to deal with” (Laureate Education, Inc. n.d) scope creep.  It has taught me that the key to a successful project is communication and working together as a team. Lastly, the project manager has to be organized, reliable, understanding, a great communicator, and above all make sure that the PM distributes and clarifies the roles and responsibilities for each group member accordingly.


Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Overcoming ‘scope creep’ [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Murphy, C. (1994). Utilizing project management techniques in the design of instructional materials. Performance & Instruction, 33(3), 9–11. Copyright by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Used by permission via the Copyright Clearance Center Required Media.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


3 thoughts on “Learning from a “Project Post-mortem

  1. Hi Madeline, I am the queen of the list. I have a list for list my family laughs at me. When it comes to being the pm of a project I have found tools like smartsheet and open project software help me set dependencies to my task list. I find these programs to help me stay on task and allows me to immediately add notes when I run into issues that will change the scope. – Lisa Wesley


  2. Hello Lisa,

    That’s funny having a list for your list. However, having a list is important as long as you don’t omit important details because it would not serve you any good. Which is what I think happened to me in my moving experience.


  3. Madeline,

    What a great story of a personal project that you managed. I believe we often learn many of our necessary life and professional skills through our mistakes and our triumphs. You clearly had some lessons that you learned from your moving project going awry. My guess is you will do things differently the next time you may need to move.

    I am curious if the use of project management tools may have been helpful for you. A personal Kanban board, check-in’s throughout the process with your family or even a retrospective when the project was complete would have help surface things that hadn’t been thought of (Rousmaniere, 2015).

    If you are like me, you probably wanted to tackle this yourself and in hindsight, you realized that others may have come up with ideas you hadn’t considered. When I realized this it has saved me a lot of extra work or learning the hard way. I had to make a number of mistakes to realize that though.


    Rousmaniere, D. (2015, February 10). Project manage your life. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/02/project-manage-your-life


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s