Learning Lessons Early

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.

I’ll be the first to say that lessons learned sessions or post-mortems are important--and the first to admit that they don’t always happen. By the time the engagement is over, either the customer is moving on to other things--or I am, or my team is, or all of the above. We try, but it doesn’t always happen.

I realize that taking the time to review the good and bad aspects of the project is very important. And there must be some sort of resurgence in this area because I’ve had literally hundreds of requests for my lessons learned template that I discussed in previous article.

For that reason--and because so many of us have to immediately move on to the next project once we’ve completed the present engagement (not to mention continue to manage the other projects we also have going at the moment)--I’ve begun to think of lessons learned as an ongoing activity that needs to happen during the project. I’m not sure if this is a relatively unique approach or not, but it seems to be working for me and my teams and customers.

Planning the sessions
During the creation of the initial project schedule, look at the statement of work and the tasks we need to accomplish and consider whether we’re performing a long project or one that is basically phased approach and broken into several sub-projects. If we’re performing a …

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"Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."

- Bertrand Russell