One of the best practices in project-oriented businesses is to routinely do a post-mortem, otherwise known as a job autopsy or a job completion review. After everything regarding a project is 100% done, all those involved meet to discuss what went well, what could have gone better, and what, if anything, could be changed in the company’s procedures and systems to reduce the likelihood of any mistakes that were made from occurring again.

Recently I read an interview with Sarah Barnett, president of Sundance TV, by Adam Bryant in The New York Times. In the interview Sarah mentioned that she does "pre-mortems" with her senior staff regarding a project or a new show. She’ll say: “All right, we just green-lit a show. Let’s fast-forward a year’s time. We launched it, and it was a huge disaster, as bad as you can possibly imagine. What went wrong?”

Each of the attendees comes up with three things that went wrong.  Everyone then discusses all those possibilities, providing insights about how to avoid those problems.

In a remodeling company it is also important to get the buy-in of all involved in the company with the decision to move forward with a project. For some projects, the circumstances are such that proceeding is a no-brainer. For others there might be challenges associated with them that make the decision about whether to proceed a bit more complicated. By talking it through before committing, the company has the option of not moving forward, often resulting in saving the company lots of money.

Another variation of the pre-mortem practice would be to review that status of each active project weekly, along with the job-costing and schedule for each project. Looking ahead instead of always behind will help the company be more likely to be successful than if everyone simply worked very hard, doing things the same way they have always been done.