Lessons Learned: Five Easy Steps

Brad Egeland

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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"It is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off."

- Woody Allen

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