Complete Guide to Project Reviews

Updated June 24, 2022

Having a project review process can help a company optimize its best practices and track various aspects of a project that could benefit from improvement. Understanding the components of a project review and ways to organize one could help you or your company with this process. In this article, we explore what a project review is, why it's important for tracking a business's success, what its characteristics are and how to conduct one.

What is a project review?

A project review is a process that a business uses to evaluate the success of a particular project and decide whether it should continue to receive resources. A project review can mean both a meeting with the project team to assess the status of a current project or a review at the end of a project. A company uses project reviews to track specific metrics and make sure that a project produces the desired results.

A project review team aims to conduct a realistic calculation of the progress and analyze potential areas of growth or improvement. A project review can be useful even if the project was a success, as it can help identify the tools and techniques that led to its effectiveness. The team can document these techniques to use in upcoming projects.

Related: What Is a Performance Review Template?

Who conducts project reviews?

The project review team conducts project reviews and meets with project teams to analyze, discuss and evaluate the success of a project. The review team can assess a project based on several criteria, including the business goals met, customer satisfaction and adherence to established company processes and strategies. The review team reads the project team's documentation to make sure they comply with the project plans and goals.

The project review team could consist of the following roles:

  • Project review leader: The project review leader conducts and facilitates the review, makes risk assessments regarding the areas where the project can benefit from improvement and analyzes the project's documents.

  • Quality assurance analyst: The QA analyst assists the project review leader with analysis and comparisons involving project strategy and standards.

  • Recorder: The recorder takes notes throughout the review process. The QA analyst can occupy this position, or the recorder may work closely with the QA analyst.

During the review process, the review team meets with the project team, which can include:

  • Project manager: The project manager makes sure that the required deliverables are available to the review team and that they're organized and easily accessed. They are also the spokesperson for the project team and communicate with the review team directly.

  • Testing coordinator: The testing coordinator is the spokesperson for the project's testing questions during the review process.

  • Other key members: Other key members of the project team address additional processes with the review team, including assessing whether they have assigned the right people to the project and if the project worked as expected.

Related: FAQ: Project Management Basics

Why is project review important?

Project review is an important aspect of the overall project and helps determine whether continuing to work on it is worth the time and resources. It can also be helpful in evaluating if the project is yielding the desired results for the business, and it offers the company a valuable opportunity to receive feedback regarding a project's trajectory and success. As continual developments occur, the process of project review can help maintain the most effective and productive project practices.

Businesses can use the knowledge gained from these reviews for future project planning and management, saving the project team's time, energy and money. Positive input from the review team can also encourage and motivate employees on the project team. The review team might want to let the project team know that their hard work has a positive impact on their project and company.

Related: What Is Project Planning? (With Examples)

Characteristics of a project review

The characteristics of a project review include the purpose of the review, the team of reviewers, the location and the length. There are various reasons that a company conducts a project review, and the reviewers may be interested in evaluating one or more specific aspects of the project.

Potential areas of evaluation include:

  • Fulfillment of business objectives

  • Adherence to project management guidelines and overall strategic method

  • Tracking of finances, including the budget, projected income and benefits

The project review leader may organize these characteristics into an agenda to share with stakeholders and the project team members. Project reviews are goal-driven, including the evaluation of direct and secondary goals. The direct goals track whether the project is meeting its explicit aim. Secondary goals involve analyzing more nuanced aspects of the project's success, including project management processes, the project's strengths and areas that could benefit from improvement. Secondary goals also address how a project can contribute to the professional success and advancement of those involved in it.

How to conduct a project review&

Having a process plan can ensure a thorough and effective project review. Following these steps can help you conduct a project review for your company or business:

1. Establish roles for reviewers

Establishing clear roles and responsibilities for the reviews before the review process begins can help guarantee that all members understand their roles and that the team accounts for all deliverables prior to starting their research. Allocating roles and responsibilities to team members allows everyone to stay focused and on target while accounting for all aspects of the review process.

Related: Guide To Quality Assurance

2. Establish guidelines for feedback

A clear streamline for feedback helps provide easy communication between the review team and the project team, allowing for successful collaboration throughout the review process. The project's stakeholders may likely want to be involved in the review process, so you may have feedback guidelines for their opinions as well. With several people involved in the review process, it's important to prioritize having specific guidelines about the number of times a project will undergo review and adjustments.

3. Decide what the review team will assess

Before initiating the review, the review team can consider outlining their goals and highlighting the specific areas that they want to evaluate. This can help guarantee that reviewers streamline their work and remain focused on addressing the specific needs of the project. Once the review team has decided on their objectives, it is important to communicate this to the project manager so everyone involved understands the purpose of the project review.

4. Initiate the review

During the initiation phase, the review team creates a collection of materials, sometimes referred to as an entry packet, that informs the project team of the review process and what documentation the review team may require the project manager to provide. The project review leader may create a set of review questions and an agenda. The project manager may meet with other members of the project team in order to prepare for the review and discuss the upcoming process.

5. Research

This is the stage where the review team fully evaluates the project. The review team may compare the project deliverables against the company's existing project standards. Members of the review team may also conduct informal one-on-one interviews with members of the project team, including the team leads, testing coordinators, the team planner and other members. From these interviews, the QA analyst consolidates notes to create a concise list of the team's preliminary findings. Depending on the size of the team and the complexity of the project, the review process can last between one to two days.

6. Report back to the project team

The review team compiles the results from the document analysis, one-on-one interviews and additional research materials and reports their findings to the project team and stakeholders. When reporting the project status, the review team may choose to code their results according to the colors green, yellow and red:

  • Green: If they label a project as green, no action is required, and they're likely to report a summary of their findings.

  • Yellow: If a project is code yellow, the review team may request a follow-up meeting or review within a month to continue to track the progress of the project.

  • Red: An "at-risk" project is one that the review team labels code red, which indicates that the project team can consider making adjustments and improvements to the area of the project that the reviewers examined, and the review team will follow up within a month to monitor the progress of the project.

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