Aar Guide


1.   Purpose. The purpose of this document is to provide guidance on the conduct of after-action reviews or AARs.   These guidelines are adapted from the references listed in Appendix A.

2.   Overview.   To improve the effectiveness of our operations, we must continuously improve and learn from both our successes and failures.   AARs are effective means to this end.   Fundamental to the success of an AAR is the spirit in which it is conducted.   Project managers, project delivery team members, management, customers and contractors should openly and honestly discuss what actually transpired in sufficient detail and clarity so that everyone understands what happened and why and then implements process improvements.  

3.   Definition and Purpose of the AAR.   A professional discussion of an event focused on improving the performance of the organization or team.   The heart of the AAR is identifying what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, why it happened, and how to sustain strengths and improve weaknesses.   An AAR is not a critique, problem solving, or allocating blame.   Feedback generated during the AAR process compares the actual output of a process with the expected outcome.

4.   Formal versus Informal AARs.   AARs are either formal or informal.   Both follow the same general format and involve the exchange of observations and ideas.   Both types should be appropriately documented so lessons learned may be shared across functional and geographic boundaries, and so that implementation of improvements can be tracked.

a.   Formal AAR.   A formal AAR is more structured, requires planning and takes longer to conduct.   The formal AAR usually occurs immediately or soon after an event is completed.   It may also occur while the event is in-progress.   Examples: completion of a design, construction project or regulatory permitting process; completion of the year-end contracting period or District-wide implementation of computer...