Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”


Three years ago I started a project to open a home-based dog grooming business. This project post-mortem report is one of the final documents for the home-based dog grooming business project and was used by the project manager and senior level management contractors to assess the success of the project. This report identifies best project practices, problem areas, and provides detailed suggestions for improvement on future similar projects.

The original project goal was to set up a home-based dog grooming business to provide a service for dog owners in Volusia County Florida and surrounding areas. The garage was to be converted into a home-based business. The objectives of the project included:

  • Obtaining a license for a home-based business
  • Finding a Head contractor to oversee the project
  • Finding sub-contractors for the structure, electrical, and plumbing
  • Procuring materials for the shop to include crates or kennels and grooming supplies

The original project success criterion was to have the business up and running by March 20, 2012.

Problem areas experienced throughout the project the plumber was inexperienced and trying to get more money for the work. The plumber advised that extra plumbing was required, which was false according to Florida codes. Communications with sub-contractors was a specific process that caused problems. According to Greer (2010), not involving all stakeholders from the beginning, one can suffer devastating consequences such as rework (p. 8). The plumber did not discuss with the groomer the height of the shower and bath components and placed them in the wrong area, which required rework and leaving a hole in the tub area. The county required a larger septic system then the original one in the house, which impacted the budget and the schedule. The septic system on the property needed to be increased according to Florida law. The grooming business was labeled under the requirements of operating kennels. Converting the garage into a living space (business) required its own air condition system, which was not allocated in the budget. The garage door being replaced with a structured outside wall need to be hurricane proof. The project was becoming over whelming and was caused by a lack of planning, communication, and execution.

Project risks that were mitigated were all the issues discussed above. Outstanding project risks that needed to be managed was the new septic system, which took up half of the front yard, in the process of destroying the entire yard during the process.

The lessons learned during this project is to do all your homework before initiating a home-based business. Talk with other home-based business grooming professionals to see their successes and failures. A lack of experience and resources resulted in the potential to significantly delay in the project. The proposed opening was scheduled for March 20, 2012 and the end of the project was May 27, 2012. The steps taken to mitigate the potentially negative impact of budget and schedule could not be overcome by the events that took place.

Unfortunately while this may sound like a project that went wrong from the beginning there are no ongoing development and maintenance considerations. Everything was complete according to Florida Law. The overall lose was the carpenter who was responsible for building the front desk reception area for $700.00 dollars was paid in full and the person left without starting or completing the tasks. Never pay workers 100% of the profit before working on a project. The end result the home-based business is thriving with continued client base and no constructional issues.

According to Greer (2010), the general questions that are stated reflect the project.

  1. Are you proud of our finished deliverable’s (project work products)? If yes, what’s so good about them? If no, what’s wrong with them? I am pleased with the finished deliverable.
  2. What was the single most frustrating part of our project? The most frustrating thing of the project was the new septic system. The unit is huge and I will mostly likely not have to service my take for many years.
  3. How would you do things differently next time to avoid this frustration? I would talk with other people who have a home-based grooming business and discuss their success and failures.
  4. What was the most gratifying or professionally satisfying part of the project? The finished product was the most gratifying accomplishment.
  5. Which of our methods or processes worked particularly well? Hiring the Head contractor was a plus, they took care of the budget, schedule, and dealt with all altercations.
  6. Which of our methods or processes were difficult or frustrating to use? Communicating and ensuring the contractors and sub-contractors understood the scope of the project and their roles was frustrating and confusing when the city placed restrictions that were unforeseen in the project.
  7. If you could wave a magic wand and change anything about the project, what would you change? The ridiculous amount of money paid for the new septic system. I even went as high as Tallahassee Florida and tried to dispute it and failed.
  8. Did our stakeholders, senior managers, customers, and sponsor(s) participate effectively? If not, how could we improve their participation? In this project and line of work some sub-contractors were exceptional and great quality of work that I would hire them again and refer their services to others. While other sub-contractors I have turned away and would not refer their business to others.


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.


4 thoughts on “Learning from a Project “Post-mortem”

  1. Katherine Evans says:

    Gladean, I would have been so overwhelmed by all those roadblocks! I am so happy that in the end the business has been a success. You gave great advice about first talking to others in similar businesses to learn from their experience. I wish you continued success.

    Katherine Evans


    • Katherine, It was an overwhelming journey, but well worth the end outcome. According to Portny et al. (2008), effective bases of power to enhance their ability to lead a project and inspire cooperation from the project team, stakeholders, and so (p. 253). This is something that I should have established at the start of the project.


      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.


  2. Cooki:

    Great analysis of your successes and struggles. I can understand your experiences with the plumber as I have just finished a complete remodel of an old school house turned into our home. Sometimes it was very frustrating, and nothing ever seemed to go according to our plans.

    I am wondering if you could have foreseen any of the problems by researching home based business codes for Florida before you started so that you would have known to plan for a larger septic system and a hurricane proof wall? The cost would still have been astronomical but at least you could have been prepared.


    • Christina,

      I thought I did all my homework and even reviewed the codes for the septic system. I did not know the state places dog grooming as kennel operations, which is not the same thing. Tried to fight it through Tallahasee and lost. So that was the big cost the septic system.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s