Session 08: Internal Review

Session 08: Internal Review

Session 07: Drafting the Templates
Retrospective: PM Standards

Hey there and welcome to this session of the PM Standards project where I am creating a repository for project management standards. In the last session I had assessed the instructions for template opportunities. In this session I am reviewing and editing the content from all three parts (terms, instructions, templates).

You can see the first versions of these parts in earlier sessions (terms, instructions, templates). Below is the revised version (after conducting all three passes for the internal review).


  1. Action Item – A task that needs to be done
  2. Confidant Review – The process where confidants review drafted material
  3. Creator Needs – The reasons that sparked the project or the problems the project is trying to solve
  4. Project Task – A step for the project that requires effort
  5. External Review – The process where people outside of Cryptiquest (including confidants) review the drafted material
  6. Goal – The high level definition of what the project is expected to produce
  7. Ideal Solution – A favored solution to the problem if all obstacles (including physics, finances, and resources) were removed
  8. Internal Review – The process where the author reviews the drafted material
  9. Issue – A setback, misstep, or other kind of problem that happened during the project
  10. Launch – Announcing the finished product to the market
  11. Project Limitations – Conditions that set the boundaries of the project
  12. Market Need – The problem(s) of your target audience that the product solves
  13. Marketing Materials – The social media posts, advertisements, newsletters or any other material used to announce your project to the target audience
  14. Need-Analysis – The process of determining the Market Need
  15. Objective – A neutral, measurable statement that serves to gauge the projects’s success
  16. Phase – A segment of time defined by the type of work performed towards an outcome
  17. Project Analysis – The process of pausing production to assess whether the project plan is working
  18. Project Life Cycle – The phases of a project from “kick-off” to “launch” (may include “retrospective”)
  19. Publish – The process of committing the final draft into the media that will be used for launch
  20. Retrospective – A document that reviews the result of the project, analyzes the project management process, and prescribes actions to improve future project management processes
  21. Scope – The boundaries of the project
  22. Second-Draft Review – The process where the second draft is reviewed by people new to the content
  23. Project Unknowns – Parts of the project that are required to make planning decisions but are not understood

Phase 1: Plan

By then end of this phase you should have an understanding of what you are creating, why you are creating it, and how you are creating it.

Step 1: What needs are you looking to solve?

Consider what brought you to this project. What is compelling you to create this? What problems are you hoping to solve or outcomes do you hope to gain?

Step 2: If money and the laws of physics were no obstacle what would the ideal solution look like?

This exercise may help you to either better visualize the goal or remove a preconceived idea from your head. The ideal solution painted here is only part of the brainstorming process and should not serve as a commitment.

Step 3: In what ways are either the scope of the project limited or required parts not understood? What are the project limitations and unknowns?

This step helps determine if research is required as well as teasing out potential objectives. Consider things like the definition of the target audience and the breadth of content. Take some time with this step and explore the shape of the project. When finished with the list, conduct research to remove the unknowns before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Based on the needs and research conducted so far, how would you define the goal of the project in one clause?

The goal defines the nature of the product and indicates the need. The goal always starts with the preposition “to” followed by a verb that is used to produce the result. Consider this sample goal:

“To create a short story that will serve as the background setting for the CQ StoryHammer Game System

It starts with the preposition “to” followed by the verb “create”. The words “short story” define the nature of the product while “background setting for the CQ StoryHammer Game System” spells out the need of the project.

Step 5: Based on the limitations and the Cryptiquest vision, what are the objectives for this project?

The objectives serve as a litmus test to determine whether the project was successful or not. They exist to help ensure that the project meets criteria that are important to you. If you don’t know what criteria are important to you then you may want to consider starting a separate project to determine your personal (or company’s) objectives.

As you list objectives, they need to be written with a measurable and neutral structure. Consider the following example: “The story is entertaining.” This is not objectively measurable. How do you determine if a story is entertaining in a way that’s not subjective? A better way to write this could be: “When surveyed, all reviewers report that the story is entertaining.” Even though the reviews themselves will be subjective, there is an objective unit to measure – reviewer survey ratings.

Step 6: With the research and scope complete, what are the steps to complete this project? What are the project tasks?

The tasks to complete the project are presented in an outline format with the phase as the first level and the tasks for each phase listed in the second level (and sub-tasks in subsequent levels). You may need to conduct some research – especially for the production phase – before writing these down.

Phase 2: Production

By the end of this phase, you should have the first drafts internally reviewed and edited for an external audience.

Step 1: Create the first drafts of the product defined in the goal.

The way this is handled will vary based on the type of project you are managing but ultimately the purpose is to draft the first version of the product(s).

Step 2: Conduct an internal review and make any edits.

The goal of this step is to iron out large or simple mistakes that you can catch before sending it to reviewers. Reviewers will find easy-to-catch mistakes before tackling more nuanced editing that you more likely need help with. By removing those easy fixes, you will help them to dig deeper and provide a more effective review. To conduct an internal review, read the first draft(s) in the following ways:

  1. Silently read through the draft(s) to yourself (and edit);
  2. Read the draft(s) aloud (and edit); and,
  3. Look over the project’s objectives and read through the draft(s) again with the objectives in mind.

Once these three readings are complete, you should be ready for the next phase. By all means, keep editing if you think it isn’t ready for others to read.

Phase 3: Review

By the end of this phase, you will have gathered feedback from various sources to refine your work into a semi-final draft.

Step 1: Conduct a need-analysis by reading your draft and asking “Who is the target audience?” and “Why does this product meet their need?”

Reviewers sometimes wonder how they are supposed to perceive the material. They will want to know what kind of audience they are reading for and what that audience is supposed to take away. The reviewers who want to know these things do so because they want to advise you more effectively. Because of this, now is a good time to take a moment and refresh who the ultimate target audience is and why this project will appeal to them.

Step 2: Prepare the drafts for external review.

Prepare the drafts in the medium in which you are going to share them with the reviewers. Are you going to print out the material and mail/hand it to them? Are you going to place it into a cloud service and email it or message them on a social media platform? However you plan on presenting it to them, prepare it and perform another review. Sometimes seeing it in the new format reveals typos you missed the first time.

Step 3: Send the materials out for confidant review.

Those who review the first draft(s) should be one or two confidants – people close to you who are unafraid to provide constructive criticism and understand what you are ultimately trying to achieve. Ask them if they would be willing to critique your work and give them the courtesy of telling them how much reading is involved before they commit. Only upon their acceptance of the critique should you provide them with the work (to avoid the risk of coming off as presumptuous).

Step 4: Make edits then send out for second-draft review.

Once you make the edits from your confidants, now it is time to send the latest draft to the “second-draft” group. This group of people should consist of 3 – 5 people. It’s good to have a larger pool to choose from as this group might not be as regularly committed to the task or as knowledgeable of your cause. Despite this, their critiques are just as valuable as the confidants’ and their efforts should be equally appreciated. Again, be polite: ask them if they are willing to critique your work and wait for their affirmation before sending them the material.

Phase 4: Implementation

By the end of this phase, the product will be implemented and ready for launch.

Step 1: After gathering all feedback, perform any edits to finalize the draft(s).

After the second round of critiques have been performed and the edits have been made, conduct one or more reviews. Sometimes edits from various sources can improve sections independent of each other and the styles can conflict making for an inconsistent reading. To counter this, perform at least one more reading to gauge for voice consistency.

Step 2: With a final version of the copy at hand, insert into the final medium and do a final review before you publish.

Publishing may mean different things depending on what type of project you are working on. The main take away is that you implement your final draft(s) into the presentation medium (e.g. web, pdf, image, etc.) then perform a final review before you publish that medium.

Phase 5: Launch

By the end of this phase, the final product will have been announced to the target audience.

Step 1: Review the implemented product and answer the question: what market need does this product fulfill?

The answer to this question may be the same as it was when you conducted the need-analysis back in Phase 3: Review. Now that the product is in a release-state, it is time to revisit the results of the need-analysis to see if the product still meets the target audience’s need. If it does then this is now your market need and continue forward; otherwise, assess what market need the product does meet then move forward.

Step 2: With the market need in hand, create marketing materials to present your solution to the target audience.

Once you have a product and a market need that matches, draft social media posts and/or advertisements that (a.) plants the need and (b.) presents the solution. Example: “Craving a sci-fi adventure with the spirit of classic Saturday morning cartoons? Check out ‘Involution: Fletcher’s Squad’.”

Step 3: Once the materials are prepared, launch to market.

If you do not already have one, prepare a checklist of all the ways to get your message to your target audience. Then use the checklist to systematically announce your product and disperse your marketing materials.

Phase 6: Retrospective

By the end of this phase, the project’s life cycle will have been analyzed with a focus on process improvement and action items for implementing those improvements.

Step 1: Once the project has been announced, it is time to review the life of the project.

Revisit your project notes from start to finish. Review the objectives to measure how successful the project resulted. Summarize each session, noting what went wrong and what went especially well. Try to be as objective as possible about the events of the project.

Step 2: Group all the items about what went wrong as a list of issues.

Create a numbered list and record the issues that happened during the project. Just create the list, do not try to justify or solve the issues at this point. That will happen in the next step.

Step 3: For each item in the list of issues analyze why the issue happened. Write down these analyses in a list of issues addressed.

The analysis for each issue may be as short as a bullet item or as long as several paragraphs. The important thing is that you spend as much time as needed to discover the crux then identify an improvement that would help mitigate this issue from happening again.

Step 4: With the issues addressed, record action items to mitigate these issues from happening again in the future.

Create a numbered list of action items. These may be as big as “Initiate a new project for quality standards” or as small as “Add a second draft review step to the project management guide”. Once you finish this list, your retrospective is complete and you should next work on those action items before moving on to new projects!

Notes About Research

Sometimes you need to conduct research before making decisions in your project. Judging when to pause and insert a research step is crucial to the success of these projects! The research step consists of identifying what answer you are trying to discover, investigating leads to track down the answers and analyzing those answers to come to your conclusion.

Optional Step: Project Analysis

Sometimes a project is not going as planned or (more likely) it’s going as planned but the plan isn’t working out. If you ever feel like things aren’t working out but you can’t quite place what is wrong then it’s a good idea to stop and take a moment to write down what you are feeling and where the project is at. Assess what is happening, why it’s not working out, and formulate a path forward. If you maintain a failing course just because it was “part of the plan”, then you are doomed to fail. Plans are living things – open to change as you glean new insights. Identify options for moving forward, adjust your course, and move on. You and your project will thrive for doing so!

ALSO: Sometimes projects fail. That’s okay! Give yourself permission to fail, permission to learn, and permission to move on. Success awaits, don’t delay due to a doomed idea. Pick yourself up and sally forth!


Kick-off Template


Initial Research

History

This project was sparked during the {link to project that sparked this} because {explain what sparked this project.}

Need

Generate a paragraph or two to present why this is a need for Cryptiquest.

Need: To solve a problem

Ideal Situation

In an ideal situation, the result would be…

Limitations and Unknowns

  1. List out the limitations
  2. Don’t forget the target audience
  3. List out unknowns – those will indicate what research is required to help you

Conduct any research here. What unknowns do you need to suss out? Do so here.

Project Scope

Goal

Generate a paragraph to explore the goal. Is it okay to ask questions to fumble through ideas? Indeed it is.

Goal: To create an output that solves a problem

Objectives

  • These statements are neutral and define the success of the project.
  • There may be one or more objectives.
  • Be sure to refer to your personal or company’s policies for more objectives.

Project Tasks

  1. Production
    1. First draft(s)
    2. Internal review
  2. Review
    1. Need-analysis
    2. Prepare materials for external review
    3. Confidant review
    4. Second draft(s) review
  3. Implementation
    1. Finalize draft(s)
    2. Publish
  4. Launch
    1. Market needs
    2. Marketing materials
    3. Launch
  5. Retrospective
    1. Project life cycle
    2. Issues
    3. Action items

Action Items

  1. Put action items here.
  2. These items include the creation of new deliverables in the All Project Deliverables table

Retrospective Template


The {name of project} project was {successful} due to….

Goal: Put the goal here.

Objectives

ObjectiveTest
1. Put objective here*Changed | Pass | Fail
2. Put objective here *Changed | Pass | Fail
3. Etc. *Changed | Pass | Fail

*Changed: Only put this here if any of the objectives were changed and if you do, this is where you explain what changed.

Origin

Basically reuse the “History” from the Kick-off session.

Need: Put the need here.

Proposed Ideal Situation Vs. Actuality

The proposed ideal situation was…

In actuality, the outcome produced…

Production Plan vs. Actuality

StepThe PlanActuality
1The first step of production planThe first step of what actually happened
2 The second step of production plan The second step of what actually happened
3Etc. Etc.
4Etc. or N/A (if there aren’t any more)Etc.

Session Rundown

Session 1: Kick-off {Link this to the session}
Summarize what happened. Include issues that cropped up.

Session 02: Name of session {Link this to the session}
Summarize what happened. Include issues that cropped up.

Session 03: Etc. {Link this to the session}
Etc.

Issues

  1. List every issue discovered from the session summaries.
  2. Sometimes no issues arise but that’s rare.

Issues Addressed

  1. Here is where you figure out why the issue happened and come up with a plan to mitigate the issue from happening again.
  2. Again, issues might not arise, but that’s totally rare.

Action Items

If needed, you can add a qualifying sentence here to serve as an umbrella category (e.g. “The following are updates for the project management guide.”).

  • Add tasks here from the Issues Addressed section.
  • Also add tasks here that were listed in Action Items sections of session notes that were to be tackled after the project.
  • Once this list is complete and the Retrospective is launched, then do the action items!
Session 07: Drafting the Templates
Retrospective: PM Standards