Postmortem template

You wrap up a big project and breathe a big sigh of relief. The next step? Run a project postmortem meeting. Create a template so you can reflect with your team on how to improve processes for the next project. Learn how to create a postmortem template that can help improve your future projects.

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The best project managers know that a project isn’t complete when the last deliverable is finished. Once the work is done, your team can take some time to reflect on what went well—and what could have gone better—with a project postmortem.

Oftentimes, postmortem meetings are skipped because there are no mandatory deliverables that happen during a postmortem meeting. However, when you templatize the postmortem process, these meetings become effortless and make it easy to run after every single project.

[product ui] Project postmortem in Asana, Kanban style project view (Boards)

What is a project postmortem?

A project postmortem is a type of meeting you hold at the end of a project to reflect on the things that went well, and the things that could be improved. This is a good opportunity for your team to celebrate major wins, reflect on your team’s workflow, and discuss any process improvements that would help the next project.

What is a postmortem template?

A postmortem template is a tool that you use to create a structured framework for your postmortem meetings at the end of every project. Teams can use a postmortem template to help plan a postmortem meeting, gather ideas as team members reflect on the past project, and to organize action items for the next project.

How to create a postmortem template

A postmortem template is used before and during a postmortem meeting. The goal of the postmortem meeting is to discuss with your team members three things: what went well during this project, what did not go well during this project, and how can the team improve for next time.

Knowing this, your postmortem template should contain the following:

  • Things that went well

  • Things that didn’t go well

  • What to improve for next time

  • Action items

  • Action item priority

  • The individual responsible for each action item

Reasons to use a postmortem template

Using a postmortem template can help establish consistent processes across your company, so you can build a culture of reflection and continuous improvement. Postmortem templates are best used for teams that use Agile project management methods, as many of those methodologies use a form of continuous improvement. Here are a few other ways a postmortem template can help your team.

  • Implement best practices: As you conduct more postmortem meetings, you discover what strategies help your postmortem meeting run more effectively. You can easily adjust your postmortem template to fit the needs of your team in real time, which means that your best practices will be ready for the next project as soon as you update the template.

  • Templates are adaptable: Many teams use templates as a starting point for different strategies. If you’re new to the postmortem process, you can use a template to help you get started. Eventually, certain teams may find that some processes work better for them. While your organization may use a standard postmortem template, different teams can adapt the template to fit their needs.

  • Provide consistency: If you run a postmortem or retrospective meeting after every project, your team starts to expect it. A postmortem template can help with the consistency of these meetings, and your team will begin to follow the meeting cadence. When this happens, your team will anticipate the meeting at the end of every project, and they can provide more specific feedback to help improve the next project.

When to use a postmortem template

Postmortem templates are extremely useful in specific situations. Here are the best times you can use them:

  • For postmortem meetings: Postmortem templates are intended to be paired with a postmortem meeting. Use a postmortem template to track any future action items, decisions, and deliverables that come up during that meeting.

  • After incident responses: If your team has an outage or major incident, it’s important to reflect back on the situation so your team can identify the root cause of the problem. Using a postmortem template can help your team go through the same steps every single time you run an incident response.

  • To automate postmortem workflows: Some digital project management softwares allow you to connect surveys and forms to projects and templates. If your team uses postmortem surveys or questionnaires before a postmortem meeting, you can pre-populate important talking points before the meeting begins. This can streamline your meeting and help the project postmortem run more smoothly. 

Integrated features

  • Board View. Board View is a Kanban board-style view that displays your project’s information in columns. Columns are typically organized by work status (like To Do, Doing, and Done) but you can adjust column titles depending on your project needs. Within each column, tasks are displayed as cards, with a variety of associated information including task title, due date, and custom fields. Track work as it moves through stages and get at-a-glance insight into where your project stands.

  • Forms. When someone fills out a Form, it shows up as a new task within an Asana project. By intaking information via a Form, you can standardize the way work gets kicked off, gather the information you need, and ensure no work falls through the cracks. Instead of treating each request as an ad hoc process, create a standardized system and set of questions that everyone has to answer. Or, use branching logic to tailor questions based on a user’s previous answer. Ultimately, Forms help you reduce the time and effort it takes to manage incoming requests so your team can spend more time on the work that matters.

  • Custom fields. Custom fields are the best way to tag, sort, and filter work. Create unique custom fields for any information you need to track—from priority and status to email or phone number. Use custom fields to sort and schedule your to-dos so you know what to work on first. Plus, share custom fields across tasks and projects to ensure consistency across your organization. 

  • Adding tasks to multiple projects. The nature of work is cross-functional. Teams need to be able to work effectively across departments. But if each department has their own filing system, work gets stalled and siloed. Asana makes it easy to track and manage tasks across multiple projects. This doesn't just reduce duplicative work and increase cross-team visibility. It also helps your team see tasks in context, view who’s working on what, and keep your team and tasks connected.

  • Jira. Create interactive, connected workflows between technical and business teams to increase visibility around the product development process in real-time—all without leaving Asana. Streamline project collaboration and hand offs. Quickly create Jira issues from within Asana so that work passes seamlessly between business and technical teams at the right time. 

  • Zendesk. With Asana's Zendesk integration, users can quickly and easily create Asana tasks directly from Zendesk tickets. Add context, attach files, and link existing tasks to track work needed to close out the ticket. The integration also provides continuing visibility across both systems, so everyone is kept up to speed regardless of which tool they use. 

  • Gmail. With the Asana for Gmail integration, you can create Asana tasks directly from your Gmail inbox. Any tasks you create from Gmail will automatically include the context from your email, so you never miss a beat. Need to refer to an Asana task while composing an email? Instead of opening Asana, use the Asana for Gmail add-on to simply search for that task directly from your Gmail inbox. 

  • Slack. Turn ideas, work requests, and action items from Slack into trackable tasks and comments in Asana. Go from quick questions and action items to tasks with assignees and due dates. Easily capture work so requests and to-dos don’t get lost in Slack. 

FAQs

What is a postmortem template?

A postmortem template is a reusable framework that you can use to help conduct your postmortem meetings at the end of a project. The postmortem template will help your team members identify what things went well and what can be improved upon before you get together to discuss the postmortem as a group. This template helps your teams continually adapt and improve processes so your team can be more efficient and effective in the future.

How do you structure a postmortem meeting?

The goal of a postmortem meeting is to identify specific parts of a project that could translate to future projects, and which ones should be avoided. Everyone involved on the project comes together to discuss the things that went well, things that didn’t work well, and how strategies can improve for the next project.

How do you write a postmortem report?

Postmortem reports vary depending on your team’s goals and structure. The best way to structure your postmortem report is to identify what it is you’re trying to achieve from the post mortem. For example, if you’re running a postmortem for incident management, then it’s important to notate the events that led up to the incident. You can then highlight how your team plans to prevent this from happening in your postmortem report. Whereas if you’re doing a traditional project postmortem, you’ll want to document the changes that your team wants to make for future sprints.

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