Lessons Learned: Five Easy Steps

Brad Egeland is an IT/project management consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management and project management experience leading initiatives in manufacturing, government contracting, gaming and hospitality, retail operations, aviation and airline, pharmaceutical, start-ups, healthcare, higher education, not-for-profit, high-tech, engineering and general IT.

Judging from the number of requests I’ve gotten for lessons learned templates, it would seem to me that there is a big movement toward actually conducting lessons learned sessions at the end of projects on a regular basis. I find that interesting because it’s one of those things that all project managers know they should do--but often overlook. The project ends and team members need to quickly move on to other projects. Going back and rehashing the good and the bad about the project in a post-mortem session seems unproductive. In fact, even getting your senior management to respect the practice and allow that expense of time, effort and resources is sometimes quite a challenge.

The first step in conducting a productive and meaningful lessons learned session is accepting the fact that it is useful. From there, follow these five easy steps that will actually last throughout the project engagement:

1. Start with the project schedule. Since the first step in conducting a productive and meaningful lessons learned session at the end of the project is to accept that it is useful, you must also then plan for it--which means putting it in the project schedule. Put a placeholder in the project schedule sometime after deployment (approximately two weeks following rollout) and enter the prep and meeting tasks necessary to conduct the lessons learned sessions. Include…

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