Let’s get reflective: 5 tips for holding a successful project retrospective

31 Jan 2018

Marketing efforts are team efforts. Big projects often involve input from executive teams, product managers and operations, as well as the creative team of copywriters, designers and developers. Following the completion of any sizable marketing project, it’s useful to survey the team involved to identify what went well, what could have gone better and key takeaways for future projects. 

Gather first impressions

Have the team rank the overall project according to a list if criteria that was defined up front as criteria for success. Using a Likert scale, this type of scoring provides common ground to start from. Where do you have agreement, and where are the areas for discussion? Criteria may include:

  • Performance against planned schedule
  • Adherence to scope
  • Performance against quality standards
  • Resource management
  • Project management
  • Content development
  • Design
  • Web development
  • Communication
  • Team cooperation

Then dig deeper. To understand the scores, ask questions to uncover issues that were encountered, how they were handled, and, most importantly, how similar issues could be better addressed in the future.

Assess the team players

To address the roles and responsibilities on the team, ask each person to weigh in on their own role by asking:

  • Did you understand your responsibilities?
  • Did you feel like you had the resources, information and support you needed to get your tasks done?
  • Do you feel that your role or responsibilities should be different in future projects? If yes, how?

Get a gauge on communication

Communication can make or break a marketing project with lots of players and stakeholders involved. To gauge the effectiveness of meetings, calls, emails or other communication tools you employed, ask:

  • Was communication within team handled efficiently and effectively?
  • What was the biggest challenge from a communication perspective?
  • How can we improve communication with future projects?

Evaluate creative

The creative is where the rubber meets the road on marketing projects. Content needs to be produced, elements need to be designed and production has to make it all come to life. Rate it by asking:

  • Are you proud of the work the team produced? If yes, what makes it great? If no, what’s wrong or missing?
  • What additional input could have aided creative development?
  • How can we improve creative quality with future projects?

End on high note

Finally, ask people to identify what went right.

  • What was the most gratifying or professionally satisfying part of the project for you?
  • What were your key accomplishments and contributions to the project? List them in order of importance.
  • If you could give one piece of advice to a future project team, what would it be?
In a team meeting, establish the discussion guideline that people should be self-critical, rather than critical of others, so that participants focus on constructive feedback. Then share the survey findings with the team, starting with areas of agreement, then diving into areas that require conversation. And be sure to finish off with clear key takeaways to inform future projects, categorizing them in terms of roles and responsibilities; project management, process and communication; and creative considerations.


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Tags: Branding, marketing, marketing tips, retrospective