Post-Mortem Lessons in Training and Development


January 18, 2013 by idinnovation

Organizational Context

The organizational context for this post-mortem project lesson example is the training division of a top employment law firm.  The organization was centrally structured thus task are completed based on specialty area (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). In this position the instructional designer is tasked with ensuring client courses are formatted, branded, and that they include the requested instructional materials.  The instructional designer is the only person on the team that provides graphic support and is responsible for ensuring the satisfactory design and development of all training programs for eleven subject matter experts who each have their own clients.

ID-10066431On rare occasions it was necessary to create PowerPoint templates that were customized for the client due to licensing agreements.  This required the use of both graphics and logo’s provided by the client. The ID position required that the instructional designer manage all department training’s to ensure completion by client due date.  The ID managed specific aspects of the department project manager role in order to facilitate the design and implementation of the final materials as well as the development of the training’s that were produced in the department. Project management tools and techniques provide the necessary framework for instructional design projects to actualize.  Project management tools and techniques enable the activities of the design process to make it effective (Allen, & Hardin, 2008). In the end the instructional designer managed the training development schedule and rare project request effectively and efficiently without missing deadlines.

General Reflection

A project manager is responsible for planning for the needs of the project, organizing, and controlling the progression of the project until completion (Russell, 2000). Because instructional designers can sometimes play a dual role and act as project managers as well as instructional designers (Stolovich, 2012) it is necessary for the instructional designer or project manager to identify the key characteristics and attributes that are important to stakeholders (Allen, & Hardin, 2008). The project was completed in the specified time-frame provided by the client and the SME who was the clients’ point of contact was satisfied with the creative design of the template. The instructional designer however, felt that not enough attention was paid to how the deliverables would look in ID-10089141print form.  Would the course materials be printed in color or in black and white? Were the images on the text slides too dark to have text printed in front of it and would someone notice the novice Photoshop “feathering” technique utilized. Given the opportunity a different design method would significantly enrich the look and feel of the graphics for the client deliverable.

The SME who managed the course content required the ID to assume responsibility of the administrative task that would have normally been assigned to someone else in the department.  The SME requested that only two people contact the client directly from the firm thus the ID assumed a project coordination role also. The SME based this decision on previous projects and wanted to ensure a consistent and effective project roll-out. The project in and of itself was not extremely difficult as it required the right amount of challenge for an ID at that level.  Effectively completing the project required several small changes that could have been avoided with better communication.  According to Stolovich (2012) the communication process should be well defined and effective.  Having a communication plan benefits the project manager by ensuring the appropriate information is distributed in the correct format, protects the stakeholders in legal and contractual situations, and acts as a record of previous decision and actions (Allen, & Hardin, 2008).

Lessons Post-Mortem

Communication strategies should be developed in the project planning stages and can and should include a combination of active and passive methods. Whether the project manager chooses active or passive methods of communication should be based on the environment and stakeholders in whom they seek to engage in the process (Holland & Holland Enterprises Ltd, 2012). Project management task such as resolving priority issues, work approach and interpersonal conflicts, controlling project changes and reporting activities are key elements of the project manager role (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008). Project management focused research suggests that a great deal can be accomplished through the use of easy-to-use communication and project control tools for managing training projects (Fabac, 2006).


Allen, S., & Hardin, P. C. (2008). Developing instructional technology products using effective project management practices. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(2), 72–97. Copyright by Springer-Verlag, New York. Russell, L. (2000). Project management for trainers. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Fabac,   J.   N.   (2006).   Project management for systematic training. Advance in Developing Human Resources, 8(4), 540-547.

Holland & Holland Enterprises Ltd (2012). Project Management Communication. Project Management in Practice: Practical Planning and Delivery of Projects, wit. Retrieved January 17, 2012, from

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Russell, L. (2000). Project management for trainers. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Stolovich, H. (2012). Project Management and Instructional Design. Retrieved on January 8, 2012 from





4 thoughts on “Post-Mortem Lessons in Training and Development

  1. Eric Fowler says:

    Hi Sharifa…communication is sometimes a deal breaker in any situation. In my teaching everyday, it is vital that I communicate the lessons and assignments effectively to my students in order to achieve the desired results. I think by nature many human beings do not realize how important communication can be. We get lost in the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives or projects, and it slips our minds. This course is showing me how important and how much work is needed on my own communication skills. There was a paper written on communication in project management at I found it useful and insightful with some straight forward and easy to read reasons how and why communication is so vital in our work. Thanks for a good reflection on communication.


    Mehta, A. (n.d.). Communication in Project Management. Retrieved on January 16, 2013 from

  2. Nick Marsh says:

    Developing communication strategies seems to be the cornerstone to any good project management plan. I’m finding this course very helpful in showing the various ways we can organize a project, that might otherwise have been ignored. I think sometimes in some ways technology can be both useful and difficult in some project plans, but there are some great tools out there that can be used for staff. I’m a fan of Microsoft Project or TeamBox if a team is highly mobile and wants to remain social. These are excellent tools to increase communication from a team. You gave a very thorough reflection on developing a communication plan. Many times instructional designers often assume roles as project managers as well. I found it interesting in how the ADDIE cycle can tie directly in to the project management cycle, particularly the initiation phase, where communication practices and patterns can be established as well as a preliminary cost estimate.

    I know when I worked on a project that I mentioned in my blog with a few researchers outside the project that functioned as a SME, it made it difficult in terms of communication because there just wasn’t the solid studies in place yet. When a project is brand new, it can definitely be exciting! I think your reflection best stated it by stating that easy-to-use project management communication tools will help manage communication in projects, particularly when their are multiple tasks happening simultaneously.


    Allen, S., & Hardin, P. C. (2008). Developing instructional technology products using effective project management practices. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(2), 72–97.

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