You’ve likely heard the adage that present actions shape future outcomes. While it seems obvious, high-performance teams take the idea to heart by engaging in methods of collaborative reflection. One such method that nearly any team can adopt is a simple after action report.
In this article, we’ll see how an after action report, sometimes called an after action review, improves future performance on tasks, actions, and even whole projects. We’ll also explore how monday.com can facilitate simple after action reports. But first, a little history and a definition.
What is a simple after action report template?
After action reports were developed by the U.S. Army with the objective of helping teams quickly determine which strategies worked well and which ones did not. The concept proved effective, and it wasn’t long before businesses implemented the technique for their teams.
Put simply, an after action report is the process of a team analyzing its performance and determining what actions to take to improve future results.
The process involves analyzing the right information and asking the correct questions. In doing so, teams examine their actions and results to figure out what works and what needs to change. Some questions a team might entertain during an after action report include:
- Was the project or cycle completed efficiently?
- Did the team have the resources to complete tasks on time, or were there difficulties?
- If there were difficulties, what were they?
- Will future projects require more resources or a different approach?
Keep in mind, an after action report isn’t a blaming process, and it’s not an activity used when projects go badly. The best teams use retrospective methods after every project or cycle. The biggest reason to do so is that it produces improvement through a shared commitment to higher performance.
Why use a simple after action report template?
When teams self-evaluate, it creates an environment of trust and authenticity, bolstering collaboration and communication. Teams improve synergy and they’re more likely to search for better solutions to individual tasks to support their shared commitment.In addition to better teamwork, after action reports produce insights in the form of growth opportunities and actionable steps to improve future projects.
To get the most from your team, this process should follow every significant project. Doing so helps the team continuously improve on projects involving similar processes. For example, if a marketing team uses an after action report to evaluate every campaign they run, they’ll consistently improve their results. Let’s take a look at this example a little closer.
What is an example of a simple after action report template?
A typical after action report follows a four-step process that includes design, preparation, implementation, and dissemination. To understand how it works, let’s imagine a marketing team going through the process following a marketing campaign. Their process might look something like this:
- Design: This stage involves determining the scope of the project. The marketing team’s campaign was successful overall, but they felt the ad campaigns underperformed relative to their content strategy.
- Preparation: During preparation, the team collects data and researches anything relevant to the scope they established. The marketing team examines the results of their content strategy and paid advertising. They also research trends to shed more light on their findings.
- Implementation: In this stage, the team analyzes and discusses their findings and starts asking hard questions about their performance. The marketing team finds that the ROI on their ad spend was far lower than that of their content strategy.
- Dissemination: With the key questions answered, the final stage is distilling those answers into a summary that includes steps for future projects. The marketing team’s summary might include more focus on content strategy and less ad spending for their next campaign.
While this is a simple example, it illustrates how teams can identify problem areas and come up with concrete solutions to enhance their performance by taking time to stop and reflect. Though, as you probably noticed, this process assumes the team has powerful tools that provide them with concrete data to analyze.
Simple after action report templates on monday.com
High-performance teams need high-performance tools that collect and produce the information they need to improve. With a collaborative Work OS like monday.com, everything your team requires for after action templates is baked in from the start. Flexible task boards track every detail of a project, whether it’s a marketing campaign or a product development project spanning over months. Real-time collaboration keeps everyone on the team synergized, while customizable workflows adapt to every individual. And since all the data beneath the surface is connected, teams can create reports to analyze their performance with a few clicks. Additionally, dozens of integrations ensure your team has access to the tools and data they already use. Whether it’s HootSuite or MailChimp for a marketing team or Shopify and Stripe for an ecommerce team, everything you need to track and analyze performance is all under one digital roof.
Related templates on monday.com
After action reports on monday.com are just one of many ways to improve project success and enhance business performance. Browse through the templates below for more methods to improve your team’s results.
Corrective action plan template
Our free Corrective Action Plan Template is designed to help you identify business problems and formulate actions to resolve them. Act by setting goals and defining the steps necessary to reach them. Built-in metrics keep the team and stakeholders in the loop with visually stunning dashboards. And since it’s fully customizable, this template adapts to any business process you can throw at it.
Action item template
While we’re on the topic of action, our Action Item Template is also worth a mention. This template is perfect for breaking any action down into its constituent parts so you and your team can follow processes through without missing any details. With flexibility built in, you can use it from the very beginning of your projects or for new approaches following an after action report.
Frequently asked questions
To learn more about after action reports, here are a couple of common questions and their answers.
What is an AAR?
AAR is short for after action report, sometimes called an after action review, though both names describe the same process. AAR describes a method used by teams to improve their performance through retrospective evaluation. The method provides insights into why and how something happened the way it did, which are distilled into a report with actionable steps for future actions.
What are the four parts of an after action review?
The four parts of an after action review are broadly defined as:
- Design: Determine the details you’re analyzing and define metrics for them.
- Preparation: Gather the necessary research and create a project plan for your AAR.
- Implementation: Analyze the data you collected relative to the metrics you defined and reflect on your findings.
- Dissemination: Distill your findings into a report and a corresponding action plan to use for future actions.
A little team reflection goes a long way
Even now, every branch of the U.S. military leverages after action reports to continuously improve performance. They’re no less common in high-performance business teams. Teams that take the time to examine their performance after a task or project go a long way toward improving their future performance, not to mention improving overall teamwork. In other words, a simple after action report template may be the foundation for your team’s exponential growth.