Technology Helps with Project Lessons Learned

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with - or even disagree with - leave a comment.

About this Blog

RSS

Recent Posts

Fair's Fair

Give Your Project a Home

A Hollywood-Style Move From PM to Scrum Master

To Have and To Hold

Leading With Integrity

Email Notifications off: Turn on

Categories: Lessons Learned


Conducting lessons learned and project reviews has been a practice that many organizations have used over the years to help their next projects be successful.
 
It's a continuous cycle of retrieving and assessing your project information.

As the project manager, you should call a meeting and discuss any issues or tasks that went wrong and what could have been done to improve the project. The improvements should be incorporated into the processes of the next project, which typically have a better outcome. Then that project will have its own challenges that will also need to be addressed. And so it goes.

If you aren't doing some type of project review or lessons learned, you will most likely repeat actions that have caused the project failures, budget overruns, scope creep, inadequate stakeholder involvement, technology mishaps and other problems that plague your projects.
 
Yet some project managers find excuses not to host these valuable meetings. One such excuse is a geographically dispersed team. There's no need for a dinosaur mentality to achieve a project review. Use today's advanced technology to your advantage when conducting a lessons learned meeting:

  • Conduct a lessons learned session in the same way as you would hold a virtual team meeting. Emphasize the goal of targeting improvements. Use a virtual whiteboard to list pre-determined questions or to show a timeline of how the project progressed. Allow the team members to post their version of the events that could be improved upon in the next project.
  • Consider posting a social media page to capture comments. This venue would allow you to reach stakeholders in their habitat, possibly presenting more candid comments.
  • Send out a survey. Then collect and analyze the results. Gathering the data this way could lead to more impartial responses and a scientific alignment of the priorities that should be addressed.     
Traditional methods for conducting lessons learned will always prove beneficial as well. Bring in an outside group or consultant to assess projects and provide recommendations. As the lead and manager of an important project delivery, designate time to look back so that history does not repeat itself.

Do you use technology or traditional methods in your lessons learned?

Posted by Bernadine Douglas on: March 26, 2012 12:30 PM | Permalink

Comments

John Rowley
Whilst I agree with the principle of using new communication technologies to conduct reviews, it depends heavily on the team's willingness to use them.

This can depend on the culture of the organisation and the age profile of team members.

I have recently conducted a post-implementation review with a large and somewhat dispersed implementation programme team. I used an online survey as the first step, and got a reasonable 65% response rate. To get the qualitative input I hosted an intranet based discussion forum, which has illicited hardly any responses. The final step was a face to face meeting for a limited number of people to agree actions for future projects.

In my view, sometimes you cannot get round the benefits of face to face. The alternative virtual approach never seems to work as well. I suppose some people find the ability just not to respond is acceptable; it is not considered rude in the way the failure to respond to a question in a face to face meeting would be considered rude.

But the benefit of face to face post project reviews - in terms of the investment in the business which arises - have to be sold hard to justify inevitable travel costs. Video and tele conferences should not be forgotten as a half way house.

Gerald Leonard
I like your recommendations for capturing lessons learned and I have also found that storing lessons learned across projects into a single repository provides valuable insight overtime. I used this method at a large law firm and the insights gained help everyone to avoid issues experienced in earlier projects.

Great Article,

Gerald


Todd/The Project Management Steps
Great article. Documenting (and actually using!) lessons learned seems to be one of the things that organizations struggle with most.

I like your suggestions for using technology to capture the lessons learned. I think organizations also need to use technology to make those lessons easily accessible to others to use on future projects.

In my experience, this seems to be a huge downfall of many organizations. I've been managing projects for quite a long time and I've never actually come across an organization that does this extremely well.

Do you have any tips for communicating lessons learned to other project teams across large organizations? Thanks for the article!

Powernoodle
This is a great article and is exactly what we are trying to help facilitate with our cloud app.
Technology allows us to improve efficiency and collaborate in ways that were just not possible in the past.

Great article!

Tony Adams
The great challenge with Lessons Learned is to embed them in the business as usual, operational model so that they provide enduring, tangible business benefits.

In a previous Project, I used Microsoft SharePoint as a forum to share information across the project team and key stakeholders.

In that context, use SharePoint to:

- List lessons learned, the quantified target benefits and the designated operational owner
- Distribute targeted emails/reminders/updates to LL owners

- Provide a wiki so that all participants can update collaboratively as the LLs are embedded into the organization

- Provide periodic update on LLs and their implementation status to senior stakeholders


Bernadine Douglas, PMP
@Tony:
As Sharepoint is a program many organizations have, this is an excellent tool for this purpose. Thanks for sharing how you use it within your processes for getting access to and actually using lessons learned.

@Powernoodle:

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate hearing how technology and cloud applications help you with lessons learned.

@Todd:
Thank you for your compliments on the article. I agree that sharing the lessons will ultimately be a help to an organization, and I agree there are organizations that do this well.

As this blog continues, maybe you can pick up some tips from others who share their ways. I will list some tips in future articles.

@Gerald:

Storing the lessons and being able to refer back to them is very important. Thank you for sharing.

@John Rowley:

I think you have to try to meet people where they are, as best you can on their level, or by the same means to get what you need. This is not always ideal or even possible.

You tried several methods. I think that is great.

And face-to-face in no way can be dismissed for its advantages nor disadvantages either. You will almost always at least get some type of response rather than nothing.

I appreciate you taking the time to reply. Please continue to follow this blog, and share more of your tips and how some of the lessons may have proved successful.

Thank you for your comments.

Bernadine


Please Login/Register to leave a comment.

ADVERTISEMENTS

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

- George Bernard Shaw

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsors

>