What is the AAR Process?

The After Action Review is a Process that highlights the importance of analyzing Projects immediately after they have been completed.

 

Its main objective is to help professionals learn from their Recent Experience.

  • Before the important details of the Project Fade over time.

 

This process is commonly known by the acronym formed by the principle it proposes:

  • AAR: After Action Review.

The Four Stages of an After-Action Review

1. Goals: Establish the Goals that the Project intends to Achieve.

  • Generic Goals: Success, Customer Satisfaction, Popularity, etc.

 

2. Results: Choose the right Metrics and Measure the Results obtained.

  • Defined Measurable Metrics: Margins, Time to Completion, Issues per thousand, etc.

 

3. Evaluation: Compare the Results with the Established Goals.

  • Have Goals been achieved? Why the Project succeeded (or not)?

 

4. Lessons: Analyze what went wrong and what can be Improved in the Future.

  • What lessons have been learned? What could have been done better?

Four Stages of an AAR Process

 

Now, before looking at different examples, we’ll give you some Tips on How to develop Effective After-Action Reviews.

  • Based on our Professional experience.

How to Conduct an AAR

Initial Goals do not necessarily have to be Defined or Measurable.

  • These Objectives explain what was being pursued with the Project.

 

These Goals should be then described with Defined Measurable Metrics.

  • This way, Goals can be assessed objectively.

 

The Evaluation of Goals and Results has to be Objective.

  • Establish Numerical milestones and thresholds.

 

Write down and Catalog the Lessons Learnt as soon as Possible.

  • Otherwise, many important details will be forgotten for future Projects.

The best way to understand the AAR Process and How you can use it is by sharing some examples with you:

After Action Review examples

In these examples, we’ve tried to imagine How different successful companies used the After-Action Review to improve their products.

  • Knowing it or not.

 

Let’s see what conclusions we can get:

Windows 8 - After Action Review example

 

The entire world uses Windows.

  • Whether at home or at work.

 

Few years ago, Microsoft tried to innovate and create a new concept of Windows.

  • Windows 8.

 

However, they misjudged how accustomed people are to the Windows environment.

  • The Menu at the bottom-left part of the screen.
  • The Traditional Folders.
  • The Desk, where you leave any document that you find.
  • etc.

 

The problem for Microsoft is that it is perhaps the company with the highest expectations in the world for its Products.

  • As we mentioned, we all use Windows.

 

Windows 8 didn’t succeeded as they expected and few years later, Microsoft released Windows 10.

  • A wonderful Operative System that fulfilled their Clients’ expectations.

 

Microsoft learnt that innovations in their Flagship Product, Windows, should come little by little.

 

Summarizing:

  • Goals: Change how people use and perceive an Operative System.
  • Results: Very Reduced sales. People prefer Windows 7 to 8.
  • Evaluation: People don’t switch from Windows 7 to 8. Goal not Fulfilled.
  • Lessons Learnt: People like their traditional Windows environment.

Cyberpunk - After Action Review example

 

Cyberpunk was expected to be the new GTA (a very popular Game).

  • An open-world game where you can do everything you want with an immersive story.

 

The expectations were enormous.

 

However, when the game was released, Users found dozens of “glitches” (problems).

  • Some characters had no face.
  • There were problems in the menu.
  • Cars couldn’t be driven properly.
  • etc.

As soon as Clients reported issues, they started to fix what didn’t work properly.

 

Few months later, they released a huge Patch for the game (40G) that supposedly solved everything.

 

What is certain is that, given the enormous number of bugs found, the game was not ready to be launched.

 

Summarizing:

  • Goals: Become a Benchmark in open world games. The new GTA.
  • Results: Hundreds of Glitches and reduced Sales after the Release.
  • Evaluation: The Sales decrease and Claims show that the Goal has not been fulfilled.
  • Lessons Learnt: What technical problems, users do not find acceptable.

WordPress 5.5 - After Action Review example

 

In case you don’t know what WordPress is, it is like a special Word for Website.

  • It allows to easily create Sites without knowing any programming.
    • This Site is built with WordPress, for example.

 

And, every few months, it releases a new update that improves certain things.

 

What happens when one of this updates (versions) don’t work properly?

Users start reporting issues and, sooner than later, WordPress releases a new update that solves everything.

 

And that is what happened to WordPress 5.5.

  • They quickly released versions 5.5.1, 5.5.2 … to solve the issues found.

 

It is much easier for Software companies to improve their products as they receive constant feedback from their users.

  • Compared to traditional companies manufacturing shoes, shirts, etc.

 

Summarizing:

  • Goals: Release a new version that works perfectly.
  • Results: Reports of problems grew dramatically.
  • Evaluation: Users didn’t Update their WordPress to 5.5.
  • Lessons Learnt: New versions need to be more polished before being released.

New Coke - After Action Review example

 

If you have not ever heard about “New Coke” it is normal.

  • Don’t be scared.

 

40 years ago, Coca-Cola released a “New Coke”.

  • They wanted to improve the taste.

 

The New Coke was a disaster.

We don’t know how it tasted (we’re not that old) but we’re sure that the problem was not its taste.

 

People was used to Coke’s flavor.

In a fast-changing world, people wanted something that didn’t change.

 

Coca-Cola learnt the lesson and discontinued the Product.

  • They offered different flavors but always differentiating them.
    • Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, etc.

 

Summarizing:

  • Goals: To update Coke’s flavor to be even more successful.
  • Results: Sales were extremely lower than expected.
  • EvaluationSales of the new Flavor were not as good as traditional Coke.
  • Lessons Learnt: People feel attached to traditional Coke.

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