DEV Community


Posted on

How to conduct project post-mortem?

What are your tips or strategies in conducting a post-mortem?
Can it be conducted offline?
When is the best time to do it?
Any memorable/funny/insightful post-mortem experience?

Top comments (3)

papaponmx profile image
Jaime Rios

OMG. I've seen a lot of bad stuff happening again and I love this question.

The first thing I'd recommend is taking some emotional distance from the event.

Second, understanding that as developers, we are leveraging technology in order to change the world, we have, do and will make mistakes, lot of them. It is part of our jobs and it is OK to make them. Also make sure you learn from them and share that knowledge whenever you can.

Third. If you are ever in a position where you are being ridiculed and shamed for a mistake your made six months ago. There is something wrong with the culture and you might want to consider leaving that job.

For example: Imagine a junior developer who deletes a production database by mistake and there is no back up. The problem would in this scenario would be a fragile system and poor documentation. There are changes that need to be implemented.

Second look for ways to describe the situation, find causes, consequences and most important of all, learn from it. Here are some ideas:

  • What was I doing when it all happened?
  • What was I trying to accomplish?
  • What were the consequences?
  • What did not go as expected?
  • How can we ensure we get this kind of feedback faster?
  • Is there a way to prevent this problem in the future?
  • Is there a way to automate the answer of the previous question?

Finally I would recommend you read more about Devops and this book.

Also check The Phoenix Project. No spoilers, it is a novel about a TI project that is critical for the business, late, out of time and budget. We can definitely relate to.


sforce profile image

Thanks Jaime!! I've added your recommended books to my list.

I work as part of professional services. I get assigned to multiple projects and sometimes projects do not have a clear closure. My company do not have a system in place for post mortem meetings which i believe is absolutely important.

The biggest hurdle is time - how to identify the right moment to set a post mortem meeting. Do you think post mortem can be conducted offline?

papaponmx profile image
Jaime Rios

I would try to do them at the end of the sprint or every two weeks. The goal is to improve the daily work flow.

About conducting them offline, you surely can, but I'd still try to get some feedback from the team.