Project Management

Lessons Learned LOUD

Al Taylor is an independent IT contractor in Ontario, Canada.

In the novel A Prayer for Owen Meany, author John Irving uses an interesting literary device. All of the words spoken by the protagonist are printed in uppercase. I think perhaps this was done to emphasize the challenges that Owen (who is a small person) had being noticed, heard and making an impact on the lives of his friends and family. In this article, I suggest that organizations need to borrow a page from Irving’s novel and find a way to emphasize the business value that comes out of activities such as conducting post-implementation reviews (PIRs) and documenting lessons learned.

Mature project-oriented organizations, to their credit, are conducting PIRs. But some are not doing enough to broadcast the results throughout the organization. I have seen PIRs and lessons learned published to the immediate project team but not shared with all project stakeholders.

I have over the last few years worked for two clients that run hundreds of projects every year. For one of the clients I worked as a developer on a very large database conversion. This project was a success in that the conversion was completed, delivering significant business benefits. But the project ran long and over budget and was noticed by management. A formal PIR was conducted and was executed by a senior project manager borrowed from another department. The development team attended several fact…


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