Key Messages from the AAR Evaluation

Evaluation of After Action Review using service development projects identified that AAR is a useful method for evaluating different types and size of projects.  

Feedback from the staff taking part demonstrates that the participants found this a useful review method, but do need to feel supported through the process of establishing ground rules.

The majority of the AAR's in the evaluation were undertaken in a short time period of 20-35 minutes, suggesting that focusing on four key questions ensures the review is decisive and purposeful, however time must be allowed for developing  action plans that all the participants agree to.

Action points also require follow up in future AAR's to assess if the time spent on an AAR has made a difference to project improvement, impact and outcomes. 

Staff taking part reported that this was an effective use of their time. 

This evaluation indicates that the role of the facilitator needs to be explored and developed further to ensure the ARR remains focused, allowing enough time for action planning.  The time spent on an AAR needs to be combined with follow up of learning from action points to ensure the investment is valuable to the organisation.    

The AAR method of project evaluation showed that it can support teams in identifying points which give a project success or failure. 

The AAR's drew out key themes of barriers and facilitators related to changing practice.  These factors can be applied to the wider organisation of lessons learnt for future projects; ensuring factors are in place to enable successful change in practice. 

The evaluation of ARR has demonstrated that it is a useful method to apply and use in healthcare, but requires refinement of the process so all staff are confident of the ground rules and process, and that the AAR allows time for action planning.

After Action Review has now been adopted for use by departments leading service development projects as a project evaluation method, particularly in relation to patient safety projects as a method of rapid review for this work.   It is also being used by NIHR CLAHRC South Yorkshire as an ongoing assessment method for implementation projects.