What is the Post-Mortem template?
A post-mortem is simply a session, event, or meeting where teams can evaluate their work. All participants invited to the post-mortem session review their recent failed project or a hiccup, elaborate on what went well and what didn’t go according to the plan, and look for lessons learned and improvements.
Clear documentation and analysis are extremely crucial to an effective post-mortem process. Ensure you fully understand and remediate the root causes of incidents to successfully mitigate them in the future. While evaluating completed projects is beneficial, consider also reflecting at key stages during a project and at a higher frequency to resolve possible problems.
The post-mortem process consists of the following elements:
- Incident summary — Prepare a few-sentence summary of the incident. Write down what happened, why, and how long it lasted.
- Leadup — Describe the sequence of events that caused the incident.
- Fault — Make notes of what was implemented that didn’t work as expected. To illustrate the incident, provide as much data as possible in different formats: screenshots, reports, documents, etc.
- Impact — Explain and describe how the incident impacted the users and how many of them raised a support ticket.
- Detection — Answer questions like when the incident was detected, how the team learned about it, and how the process of discovering such occurrences could be improved.
- Response — Find out which team member responded to the incident, when they did it, in what way, and how long the response time was.
- Recovery — Detail the exact steps taken to restore your services and describe how the incident was deemed over.
- Timeline — Describe the incident’s timeline, including leadup events, first known impact, or escalations. Make notes of any changes or decisions made and when your team managed to resolve the issue.
- Root cause identification — Write a description of the incident and ask “why” five times until you get to the root cause.
- Lessons learned — Discuss with your team what went well, what could be done better, and where there is room for improvement.
- Preventative actions — Prepare an action items list to prevent the incident from happening again. Write down who’s responsible for what, when they should complete the work, and where you will track it.
What are the benefits of the Post-Mortem template?
Thanks to the Post-Mortem template, you can:
- Improve efficiency among team members to understand all contributing root causes of a problem.
- Boost your teammates’ morale, better understand the team’s capacity, and work as a more cohesive unit on future projects.
- Document the incident for pattern discovery and future reference to prevent it from happening again.
- Treat mistakes as invaluable learning opportunities from an objective point of view.
- Enact practical preventative actions to reduce the likelihood and impact of recurrence.
How to use the Post-Mortem template in a few steps?
- Open the Post-Mortem template on a new board or add it to an already existing one.
- Invite your team to the board by sending an email invitation or sharing the board URL.
- Join the audio and video chat with your teammates to see their faces and talk to each other during the post-mortem session. Place your camera stream in the designated video zone.
- Move to the first part of the session and start filling out sticky notes with detailed answers. Describe what happened in appropriate frames: Incident summary, Leadup, Fault, Impact, Detection, Response, and Recovery.
- Describe the timeline of the incident in as much detail as possible. Standardize the process using just one timezone, for instance, UTC.
- Ask the five whys to get deeper into the root cause of the incident. Write down your answers on sticky notes. Convert the last sticky note into an actionable Jira item if applicable.
- Write down all lessons learned from the incident and describe preventative action points for the future.