Project review – if you are working in an EU project you know exactly what that is. It involves a lot of preparation – you are to condense all work progress done the last 1-1,5 year into a couple of 15-30 minutes presentations. In the meeting room you can feel the tension, engagement, excitement and adrenaline of all participants – even when the review is held online.
“Prepare for questions you would find hard to answer. The questions might never be asked, but you will feel more comfortable during the review meeting if you are well prepared.”, says Ulrika Wahlström, Innovation project manager, IMCG.
IMCG’s Ulrika Wahlström is leading work packages in several EU projects regarding business innovation, exploitation and outreach activities. She has prepared for and participated in several project reviews. The month of June this year has been particularly hectic. First, the H2020 lighthouse project IRIS Smart Cities had its’ 30-month project review by the EU commission and 45 organisations from 10 countries gathered online instead of in Brussels. Then, the smart grid project United-Grid had its’ 30 month-project review, when 11 partners from France, the Netherlands and Sweden also gathered online.
How do you succeed with the project review?
How do you make the reviewers understand that you have progressed the way that was foreseen in the project proposal that you (or somebody else) wrote so long ago and is the reason why you stand here today? Ulrika emphasizes the benefits of identifying the questions you don’t wish the reviewer would ask you. As a work package leader you are not expected to know everything, but by consulting your project partners and dig into the collaborative hub of knowledge within the project in preparation for the review, you will be able to prepare some answers to foreseen difficult questions.
Ulrika has some tips for enhancing your project’s chances for a successful – and joyful – project review:
- Highlight successes, but if you have had challenges, mention them as well
By describing not only your successes, but also the challenges you are facing and how you tackle them, the reviewer will get more of an understanding of the results.
- Rehearse your presentations
By rehearsing the presentations and letting project partners give feedback you will improve your presentations and secure that you keep the time dedicated for each work package.
- State how all partners collaborate in order to make progress
Even though the presentations will be done work package by work package, it is important to show how work packages and partners are collaborating, not working in silos.
- Use words that are understood by people outside the project
The reviewer can’t be expected to know the name of a specific task or deliverable or understand the meaning of project specific abbreviations. Use a vocabulary that is suitable.
- Identify the questions you wouldn’t like to have
If there are areas where you find it hard to describe project progress, discuss this with experts within your work package and let them provide you with clear information that you can use.