All of us at some point in our lives have paused to take stock of the situation at hand. For instance, we often pause to see if we are heading in the right direction, if our goals are aligned with our actions, and so on.
Reflection periods in project management serve the same purpose. It allows the project team to ascertain whether the tasks completed are in congruity with project specifications, whether the project is on time, delayed or advanced, and whether the works executed so far have met the desired purpose. Identifying mistakes or need for changes early is cost-effective and less troublesome than waiting for someone to review it after much work has been built on the mistake and then changing everything. For instance, a defect in constructing a wall identified immediately after construction is better than identifying the defect after plastering and painting.
Scheduling reflection time for your project team has far wider uses than such stock taking reviews. For one, it helps project teams retain focus. Many people tend to dilute the focus and sense of purpose when they have too many things on their head, and get embroiled in routine activities. Reflection helps to simplify things, and keeps the end in mind. It also allows the project manager to assess the strength and weakness of each team member, and make appropriate changes to work allocations or project team composition.
Reflection time also serves a far more critical purpose than reviews. Very often, initial plans are theoretical estimates. When actual execution starts, such plans may require modifications or tweaking to reflect ground realities. The project team can put the reflection period to good use to revise estimates, especially time and resource requirements for the reminder of the project.
Another important use of reflection period in projects is to review the project scope. Today’s economic environment is in a state of continuous flux, with fast-paced changes the order of the day. Such changes have impact on project management as well, for the project owner might have different requirements than the ones when the project started. Reflection time allows considering scope creep, and if nothing else finds good use to cover the extra ground that scope creep has thrust on the project team.
Regardless of scope creep, uncertainties in the external environment may result in delays of supplies, breakdown of the supply chain or any other disruption, and reflection time serve as precious slack time to allow the project team to catch up with the set timelines.
Even without any of these uses, a reflection period comes as a welcome break for the project team to recharge batteries. At times, a break allows completing the tasks faster and better compared to working non-stop.