I know that managing a project is a challenging undertaking, which is why is vital for a Project Manager to ensure that they also keep a record and capture the various lessons learnt as they progress.
We all are familiar with the term hindsight; it’s defined as the recognising of the dangers and/or possibilities of a situation after it occurs. It is for this reason that when projects are completed that lessons learnt report is completed.
The purpose of documenting lessons learnt is to share and use knowledge derived from experience when a project of a similar nature is proposed, as it allows for the assigned Project Manager and his/her team to review the previous project and be aware of previous challenges that had been encountered, and what had been learnt from it, and in so doing help them to promote the likelihood of a desirable outcome.
Knowing the importance of a lessons learned report, and the benefit of hindsight that can be brought to a new project, it is therefore surprising to know that very few project manager on completion of their projects record such information.
In addition, those that do record such information do so either on their own computer hard drives, or to their organisations project repository (if they have one) that very few people know exist or can’t be found.
The truth is that very few projects are started by a review of previous lessons learnt reports, which means that rather than avoid potential pitfalls, they end up repeating them.
So why is this? The answer is simple, most organisations don’t have a Project Management Office or PMO in which completed projects are recorded into, along with their associated documents like lessons learned reports. In addition, because these document repositories are not regularly updated or monitored, the information contained in them is therefore either out of date, or not communicated to the appropriate individuals when needed.
Given this avoidable oversight it’s not surprising that many projects repeat the failures of similar projects. So, what can be done, here are the 5 things that should be recorded by a Project Manager both during and at the end of their projects.
- At project end, conduct lesson learned session
- Document lesson learned and corrective action taken in central project repository
- Disseminate lesson learned to other projects if appropriate
- Incorporate project lessons learned into organisation lessons learned
- Archive project lessons learned with along with historical project data
Here are a few examples of the type of lessons learnt that should be captured:
- What was learned about the project in general?
- Did the delivered product meet the specified requirements and goals of the project?
- Was the customer satisfied with the product(s)? If not, why not?
- What bottlenecks or hurdles were experienced that impacted the project?
- Did the project management methodology work? If not, why not?
Quick Win Action.
- Before you start your project check to see if a repository exists for previous projects and check to see if there is a lesson learnt report that could be used.
- If no project repository exists, report this to your senior management so one can be implemented and communicated accordingly.
What to know more?
With over 20 years Project Management Experience, I provide Coaching & Mentoring to both new and experienced Project Managers who are looking to further develop and enhance their Project Management Skills. If you’re ready to level up your skills and achieve your full potential as a Project Manager in your industry, then I can help you.
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