Experiences with conducting project postmortems: Reports versus stories

Kevin C. Desouza, Torgeir Dingsøyr, Yukika Awazu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The most popular unit of work in organizations is a project. Managing knowledge in and about projects is salient for successful project management, In this article, we will discuss how postmortems can be used to capture tacit experiences in projects. Conducting a postmortem, either after a milestone or at the end of a project, is salient in order to gauge what has been learnt, what were the main issues faced, and what can be used to improve the processes of work in the future. The conducting of postmortems aids in articulation of tacit experiences into explicit forms. This enables for experiences to be better re-used in the future. Re-using of postmortem findings depends heavily on the nature of the postmortem outcome. We will compare two kinds of postmortem outcomes - traditional reports and stories. Both types have their pros and cons, and management must choose the right kind of postmortem report to calibrate, depending on the project and learning outcomes. The article will also highlight lessons learnt from conducting postmortem reviews in several software organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-215
Number of pages13
JournalSoftware Process Improvement and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Knowledge management
  • Narratives
  • Postmortem review
  • Project
  • Project management
  • Projects
  • Software engineering
  • Stories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software


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