Premortem template

Brainstorming different ways a project can go wrong sounds like a recipe for disaster. However, it’s actually a great way to help your team figure out solutions and mitigate risk—before you even have a problem. Use a premortem template to help you do this with ease.

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Thinking about how a project could go wrong before you even start sounds like a bad way to kick it off, but it’s actually a smart strategy to help you identify potential risks and future outcomes. This way, you’ll have a plan if those issues arise and avoid being blindsided. This is the basic idea of a project premortem brainstorm. Using a template to help start your premortem brainstorm is an easy way to jump in, without much heavy lifting.

What is a project premortem?

A project premortem is a type of brainstorm your team conducts before a project begins to anticipate ways a project can fail. It’s based on the concept of prospective hindsight: reflecting on a potential future event as if it had already happened. The idea is to look for potential failure and use that to better identify and plan for possible project risks.

What is a project premortem template?

A premortem template is a duplicatable tool that you can use every time you conduct a project premortem to organize key ideas and action items resulting from the premortem meeting. A premortem template is best used in a collaborative work management tool. That way, project team members can contribute to the brainstorm in real-time and everyone can use it as a virtual whiteboard.

What’s included in a premortem template? 

Good premortem templates contain all of the important elements required to run a successful premortem meeting. These include:

  • Prework or prereads: It’s important to provide context in a premortem meeting so that project team members can conduct their own mini premortem analysis and bring those thoughts into the brainstorm.

  • Meeting agenda:  Sharing a meeting agenda in advance gives your team time both for individual brainstorming and analyzing the topics they’re expected to discuss during the brainstorm.

  • Brainstorming categories: There are two main things that you want your team to come up with during the premortem: potential future risks and potential future solutions to those risks.

  • Likelihood of occurrence: For potential risks, this is a label or identifier to help indicate the likelihood of the risk happening. This can help you better prioritize and plan your project in a way that will minimize risk. 

  • Priority: This is the ranking of risks by order of importance to your project. Not all risks are created equally, so prioritizing can help your team focus on the issues that matter the most. 

Benefits of using a premortem template

Using a project premortem template can provide your team with some major benefits. Here are a few ways you could benefit from by using a premortem template:

  • Provides consistency: Using a template ensures that everyone runs a premortem meeting in a similar manner. With consistent use, everyone becomes more familiar with the process and a premortem meeting becomes an integrated part of the planning process. 

  • Mitigates project risks:. Practicing prospective hindsight means regularly looking for potential failure. In the end, this prevents those negative future outcomes from happening because your team prepared for them.

  • Encourages cross-collaboration before the project begins: When everyone on the project team completes a premortem exercise together, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page. Using a work management software like Asana can help teams connect in real time, so remote teams can brainstorm—together. 

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.

  • 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.

  • Project Brief. A project brief is a way to communicate important details and dates to your broader project team. Make sure your team can easily access your project brief by putting it in a central source of truth like Asana.

Recommended apps

  • Google Workplace. Attach files directly to tasks in Asana with the Google Workplace file chooser, which is built into the Asana task pane. Easily attach any My Drive file with just a few clicks.

  • 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. 

  • Figma. Teams use Figma to create user flows, wireframes, UI mocks, prototypes, and more. Now, you can embed these designs in Asana, so your team can reference the latest design work in context with related project documents. And, unlike screenshots, live embeds update in real-time to reflect changes made in a design file, eliminating the overhead that comes with finding the right files and updating images. 

  • Microsoft Teams. With the Microsoft Teams + Asana integration, you can search for and share the information you need without leaving Teams. Easily connect your Teams conversations to actionable items in Asana. Plus, create, assign, and view tasks during a Teams Meeting without needing to switch to your browser.

FAQs

What are the advantages to holding a premortem meeting?

Conducting a project premortem meeting is a form of risk analysis—your team takes the time to brainstorm different things that could potentially go wrong with your project before it even begins. This allows your team time to create an action plan so they know how to resolve a roadblock before it even becomes a problem.

How do I use a premortem template to conduct a premortem meeting?

The best way to use a project premortem template is by building a template in a collaborative work management platform. This makes performing a project premortem a breeze, because you can quickly duplicate your template, add a meeting agenda, and start using it like a virtual whiteboard.

What is the difference between a premortem and a post mortem meeting?

A premortem is a brainstorming session that you conduct before a project begins to help you analyze what potential risks you may run into. A post mortem is a meeting that you conduct after a project is completed where you analyze what went well and what things you can improve for your next project.

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