Lessons Learned is a popular concept in modern project management practices. They refer to the careful analysis and isolation of the actions and situations we go through during product development.
The Project Manager role manages the Lessons Learned. The entire Project Team participates by sharing important information. They are most often performed during the project closure phase. Reference: “Closing projects in Agile project management” (BVOP.org), https://bvop.org/learn/pmclosingprojects/
We present you an example of how to implement this practice in your projects and organization
Example of integration of Lessons Learned in our project
To impose Lessons Learned practice in our teams and organization we can approach in the following example.
We start with the greeting of the team. Then, we explain the purpose of the Lessons Learned Log, namely – during the Learned Lessons meeting, everyone to share their point of view on what they thought about the project, what they would change, what they learned, and what could be done about it. -Good.
The process varies depending on the number of attendees.
When the meeting is held with the whole team, the team members gather ideas in small groups and then present the findings at the end of the meeting.
In a team with only a few attendees, the conclusions of all will be discussed without the need for a presentation.
Then the rules of the meeting are explained. Attendees need to understand that they are supposed to be constructive, whether they like the project or not. Everyone is asked to comment on the following issues:
- What was done well?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What did you learn?
Lessons learned in small and large teams
For a small team, Excel feedback is introduced. For a larger team, flipcharts or whiteboards are usually used, where team members write down their thoughts. Regardless of the tool, a structure of 3 columns is always used: column 1 = what went well, column 2 = what did not go well, and column 3 = training.
All team members as well as the Project Manager participate in the process. Reference: “The Project Manager and their responsibilities – how to become one”, https://wikipedia-lab.org/who-is-project-manager-responsibilities-and-how-to-become-a-project-manager/
If the meeting is held with the whole project team, ask one or two team representatives to present the results in summary form. They will review all the notes and talk about the most frequently mentioned moments: Many team members said they were dissatisfied with the way the product was trained. One day of training was not enough, so people mentioned that they did not feel well prepared for the project. Reference: “What is Project Management, definitions and practices”, (Agile Programming – ISSN 2652-5925, Vol 1, 2020), https://agileprogramming.org/what-is-project-management-definitions-and-practices/
Lessons Learned Log with a small team:
After the team members record their feedback on Excel, the writing is discussed and the meeting is closed. He thanked those present for their participation. The reason for the need for feedback is stated: “I will take into account your feedback to improve our future projects, especially when it comes to <specific criticism>”.
The log of lessons learned
The lesson log is a very important part of the learning process. The purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss the need for the Lessons Learned Log. During the meeting, everyone will be able to share their point of view on what they thought about the project, what they would change, what they learned, and what could be done better. Reference: “What is Project Management?”, 2019 STC Montreal, https://stc-montreal.org/what-is-project-management/
The lesson log focuses on identifying project success and project failures and includes recommendations for improving future project results. The lessons learned can also be used to reduce the planned duration of projects. It has been proven that reviewing management, regulatory, commercial, legal, and technical lessons can achieve a high monetary return. Also, organizations can use lessons learned databases to capture information about the project schedule, costs, and scope, in addition to using this knowledge to create estimates based on previous project costs.
Management supports the process of learning lessons
Management should support the process of learning lessons by asking everyone in the organization to follow the processes of lessons learned. But the project manager should facilitate the participation of the senior management in the lessons learning process. Reference: “The responsibilities of the Project Manager – definitions and practices”, (Phronesis 2019), https://phron.org/project-manager-responsibilities-definitions-and-practices/
Some organizations choose to complete the lessons learned from the post-project review. Post-project reviews cover project process knowledge that will be useful for future projects. Many development projects do not meet the schedule and budget, as well as the needs of the clients. Re-applying important lessons to prevent future mistakes is the main reason why organizations capture lessons learned.
To stay competitive, many organizations run several projects simultaneously while trying to improve processes simultaneously. One way to achieve a continuous improvement is through learning from past projects.
Newell found that social media worked better than a database of lessons learned. It is important to capture both project successes and failures. Future projects can benefit by following lessons learned that have been successful and avoiding lessons that have failed.
More sample questions
Let’s analyze the following questions:
- What did you think about the project?
- What would you change?
- What did you learn?
- What could be done better?
And then it is advisable to open a productive discussion.
Keeping and analyzing lessons learned can reduce the risk of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. The lessons to be captured and analyzed should be the key project experiences that have some common business relevance for future projects.