Helpful Tips to write a postmortem report.

April 03, 2024 •

A post-mortem report explains what went wrong and helps us prevent similar instances from happening again. I researched how to write one but couldn’t find a conclusive strategy. All strategies are littered with corporate jargon and bureaucracies unsuitable for most organizations. I’ve learned to write them from experience. I’ll share how to write them and how businesses reap benefits from these documents.


Picture a critical software deployment going wrong and causing disruptions. Picture a powerful tool that helps you understand what went wrong and guides you to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future. This tool is the postmortem report.

What is a Postmortem Report?

A postmortem report is a reflection that helps navigate the unpredictable waters of software development. It offers a detailed approach to evaluating a project's failure, lessons, and precautions. A postmortem report promotes improvement and knowledge accumulation.

Its primary purpose is to direct the path towards increased performance in future works while avoiding risks.

The Value of Postmortem Reports

It’s very tempting to commence a new project immediately after completing the previous one. Failing to run a project post-mortem can lead to a cycle of repeating past mistakes and achieving poor outcomes. Investing time into a postmortem is investing in your work’s future efficiency and effectiveness.

Crafting an effective postmortem report

Certain elements must be included to capture the true potential of a postmortem report:

Clear and consistent framework

I create a standard template for postmortem reports. I make sure the vital details are included. This promotes consistency, allows trend analysis, and enables improvement over time.

Detailed information and data

Be specific. I quantify the change and specify the affected metrics. I use direct quotations or references from communication logs to provide clarity.

Focus on simple solutions

I embrace the simplicity principle. The most direct solutions give the most effective results. Share examples that showcase the power of streamlined solutions. An example of this is the development of a script to synchronize databases.

Engage the KISS principle

I apply the 'Keep it Simple, Stupid' (KISS) principle to foster comprehensibility and actionable insights. Simplicity often yields excellent results.

Blameless language

I foster an environment of trust and growth by avoiding blame and divisive language. I always assume that my team members act in the project's best interest. I believe they are influenced by available information. This encourages collective learning and development.

Crafting your postmortem report

Consider the following structure as a guide when you write a postmortem report:

Proper structure and formal report style

A well-structured postmortem report features distinct headings and subheadings, guiding readers through a coherent narrative. Maintain consistency in font usage and consider using lists to enhance readability.

Pay attention to verb tenses to differentiate findings from procedures. I have written a detailed postmortem report of a failure on New- Year’s Eve. Check Post Mortem New Year's Eve.

Introduction and goals

The introduction is a Launchpad for your report, encapsulating project goals and failures.

This section sets the stage for the analysis to follow. Consider adopting a bulleted list format to outline the report's structure and objectives.

Fact-based information

Focus on project specifics. These include essential details such as:

  • Project manager
  • Start and completion dates
  • Objectives

Craft a concise narrative that captures the project's journey and includes insights into its type, intention, and goals.

Central accomplishments and issues

I celebrate the aspects contributing to success. Examples of such are effective communication strategies or easy processes.

Transition into the key issues subsection, where you can strictly address challenges, policies, and procedures that pose obstacles.

Project assessment and takeaway analysis

I reflect on the project landscape. I offer an analysis that has lessons learned and best practices developed.

I then conclude with actionable recommendations aimed at fostering continuous improvement.


A postmortem report cannot be overstated. It bridges past experiences and future success, guiding teams toward optimized performance and risk mitigation. Something can always be learned, no matter how excellent your project may be.

The art of crafting an effective postmortem report lies in its ability to convey complex insights with simplicity, encourage collaborative growth, and transcend blame.

Remember to adhere to a structured approach, embrace clarity, and champion a culture of constant improvement. Your postmortem reports will become valuable learning tools that contribute to the evolution of your team and organization.