How to Follow Up After your Index Card Planning Workshop | how to plan a project

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So the result of days, or weeks of planning has resulted in three to four hours of activity. You’ve facilitated your workshop and people have left, happy and excited by what is to follow.

Three things need to happen once you’ve finished and ideally they all need to happen within a week of the workshop. First, you’ve got to send out a summary of the workshop, so that people remember what was discussed. Second, you need to get feedback on the workshop. Third, you have to get the workshop outputs converted into project artefacts.

Send out the results of the workshop

Don’t waste the energy and good feeling that you had at the end of the workshop. Make the most of it by sending out the results of the workshop straight away. You should send out the following:

  • A slide-deck that summarises the key points, so that everyone remembers what was discussed and agreed. Don’t ask for additional comments; you don’t want people to try to re-write history or throw new information in that wasn’t captured on the day. Instead, just ask for details of any new risks, issues assumptions, dependencies, constraints and decisions
  • A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix, already filled in with the roles and responsibilities for the work products
  • An estimating template that has all of the work products and seeks estimates for each one. You should already have enough information to start converting the results of your Index Card Planning workshop into a project schedule, but you will need to obtain estimates for each of the tasks so that you can make your plan realistic, rather than your own view of how long things should take. Make sure to get three estimates – best case, worst case and most likely case.

Also let the attendees know that you will contact them separately for feedback on the event. You could send this at the same time as you send out the summary, but if you do it will likely be overlooked.

Get feedback from your Sponsor and from the other attendees

You have to get feedback from your Sponsor and the attendees, so that you can improve on the workshop next time. There is always room for improvement and this feedback will help to gain long-term commitment to the approach.

The first time to do that is at the end of the workshop, as part of a review of expectations. You should also ask the attendees to give you feedback on an individual level, so that they can reflect on their personal highs and lows of the session. You can ask for feedback in several ways:

  • You can send them an email asking for their raw, unstructured feedback.
  • You can send them a form to complete, like a training evaluation sheet that you normally get at the end of a training course
  • You can create a survey using SurveyMonkey or other survey tool.

Whichever format you use, you want to get feedback about the workshop and about the person.

First, ask them for feedback about the workshop. While you will want to get feedback about the venue, the logistics and other matters, what you most want to know is: what is the thing that made the greatest impression on them. This information is like gold dust; if you can zoom in on the things that matter to the delegates and make it repeatable you will have a winning formula.

Translate the workshop materials into project artefacts

Your workshop will give you the basis for much of your project’s initial artefacts, including:

  • A Vision of the Goal and the main Success Criteria by which the project me be measured
  • The Project Schedule
  • The initial risks and issues
  • Key Project Dependencies and Constraints
  • An understanding of any exit criteria for the project.

Send these off to the Project Manager so that they can convert these into project artefacts. If you are the Project Manager, then this is a job for you, but consider using a facilitator next time. Facilitating your own workshop is a recipe for failure. It’s like they say about representing yourself in court rather than engaging a lawyer: you have a fool as a client.

Conclusion

Once you’ve dispatched the summary, obtained feedback on the session and got the Project Manager to convert the artefacts into tangible project documentation, your work is complete. You will have created the conditions for project success for this project and the rest is up to the Project Manager and the team. Wish them all the best and give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!