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Practice Areas: IT Project Management, Knowledge Management, PMO
How to capture & use lessons learned across multiple projects and PM's
Network:62



Hi, everyone. I work as an IT Project Manager for an insurance company. One of my goals is to improve the way my company utilizes lessons learned.

Our current process is this: at the end of each project phase, project team members complete a survey to capture successes and areas of improvement. This allows the team/PM to make immediate improvements, before the project is over. Then, as part of the closing process, we send another survey and have a Lessons Learned meeting in which we capture the same. Lessons learned are both compiled in a spreadsheet and included in a Project Close Report. Finally, at our monthly IT department meetings, the PM reviews Lessons Learned so that everyone - not just those on the project team - can hear them.

This is a good start, but I would like to improve the way Lessons Learned are used as an organizational project asset, especially across multiple project managers. For example, if I were to kick off a new project, I'd want to begin by reviewing Lessons Learned from relevant past projects. The only way right now I'd know which past projects to review would be largely personal memory and guesswork - obviously flawed.

I'd love to hear what other PMs do to make Lessons Learned accessible and useful across multiple projects and PMs.

Thanks!
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Network:1074



Hi Betsy. Good question, and an important topic. After the migration to Excel, and the final review, then what happens to them? Are they centralized into some type of searchable system that is accessible to everyone? Or simply stored as disparate documents, or .... ?

This is in the realm of organizational Knowledge Management. How do we make collected information available to all in an organized, accessible, and searchable fashion.
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1 reply by Betsy Green
Jul 10, 2017 11:31 AM
Betsy Green
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All of the documents are stored on project-specific SharePoint sites. SP sites are accessible to everyone. So, for example, I'm going to kick off a project that is phase 2 of a previous project. A bit of digging helps me find the SP site for phase 1 so that I can review any relevant documents from that project.

Again, this is not ideal, since connections between projects are not always as obvious as that one!
Network:62



Jul 10, 2017 11:02 AM
Replying to Andrew Craig
...
Hi Betsy. Good question, and an important topic. After the migration to Excel, and the final review, then what happens to them? Are they centralized into some type of searchable system that is accessible to everyone? Or simply stored as disparate documents, or .... ?

This is in the realm of organizational Knowledge Management. How do we make collected information available to all in an organized, accessible, and searchable fashion.
All of the documents are stored on project-specific SharePoint sites. SP sites are accessible to everyone. So, for example, I'm going to kick off a project that is phase 2 of a previous project. A bit of digging helps me find the SP site for phase 1 so that I can review any relevant documents from that project.

Again, this is not ideal, since connections between projects are not always as obvious as that one!
Network:462



Betsy -

Andrew hit the nail on the head re: KM. If your organization has a PMO, the kind of cross reference and analysis work necessary to satisfy your desire to "begin by reviewing Lessons Learned from relevant past projects." is where this would typically emanate from.

Ultimately "lessons learned" fall into two categories -
1) those that are project specific and don't naturally extend to other use cases. These include vendor of SME-specific issues.
2) those that are applicable to how projects in general are managed in the context of your organization. These typically get embedded or memorialized by way of forms, process or protocols after they are identified.

It sounds like you have the platform (SP) and "lessons learned" practice in place, so spinning up a "LL" repository should not be an unreasonable thing. If there is a wealth of LL artifacts, it might be worth hiring some short term BA assistance to do a 1st cut at the populating the repository and cross referencing between projects.

Good luck!
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1 reply by Jess De Ocampo
Jul 10, 2017 10:20 PM
Jess De Ocampo
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I agree with Mr. Casey. You have to sort and categorized your "lessons learned." It's like creating a library catalog per topic. Organizing your knowledge base for "lessons learned" makes searching for topics related to the "lessons learned" efficient and easy reference.
Network:305



Collect LL is a good start, If there is a PMO, they could help to manage the knowledge and to share it in new projects.Use SharePoint by projects help you too, but remember that some learned lesson can apply to many projects, it's means, those LL could be tranversal to multiple projects, not by project itself but the topics its covers
Network:244



Jul 10, 2017 12:50 PM
Replying to Cris Casey
...
Betsy -

Andrew hit the nail on the head re: KM. If your organization has a PMO, the kind of cross reference and analysis work necessary to satisfy your desire to "begin by reviewing Lessons Learned from relevant past projects." is where this would typically emanate from.

Ultimately "lessons learned" fall into two categories -
1) those that are project specific and don't naturally extend to other use cases. These include vendor of SME-specific issues.
2) those that are applicable to how projects in general are managed in the context of your organization. These typically get embedded or memorialized by way of forms, process or protocols after they are identified.

It sounds like you have the platform (SP) and "lessons learned" practice in place, so spinning up a "LL" repository should not be an unreasonable thing. If there is a wealth of LL artifacts, it might be worth hiring some short term BA assistance to do a 1st cut at the populating the repository and cross referencing between projects.

Good luck!
I agree with Mr. Casey. You have to sort and categorized your "lessons learned." It's like creating a library catalog per topic. Organizing your knowledge base for "lessons learned" makes searching for topics related to the "lessons learned" efficient and easy reference.
Network:62



Thank you for all of the responses so far.

What I'm thinking right now is this:

- Create a spreadsheet that includes names of all closed projects and links to their SharePoint sites.
- Create categories and indicate, for each project, if they fit into those categories. For example, if the project used an outside vendor, if the project used a new vendor, internal systems impacted.

Then, prior to kicking off a new project, the PM can look at that spreadsheet and easily find related projects.
Network:1074



If you are already using SharePoint, why not create a SharePoint list? From there you can easily create a variety of views to expose on the Home Page, or as needed. A list can also be exported out to excel if need be.
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1 reply by Betsy Green
Jul 11, 2017 11:28 AM
Betsy Green
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That's an interesting idea. Can you work through with me how that might work?

Right now, each project has its own SharePoint site. The PMs in my company also all use a shared SharePoint site where we keep things like templates. Would you suggest adding the list to that shared SP site?
Network:62



Jul 11, 2017 11:20 AM
Replying to Andrew Craig
...
If you are already using SharePoint, why not create a SharePoint list? From there you can easily create a variety of views to expose on the Home Page, or as needed. A list can also be exported out to excel if need be.
That's an interesting idea. Can you work through with me how that might work?

Right now, each project has its own SharePoint site. The PMs in my company also all use a shared SharePoint site where we keep things like templates. Would you suggest adding the list to that shared SP site?
Network:545



If you have SharePoint available for you, you don’t need to create spreadsheet, you can create LL library and use index fields to capture the information you would enter to spreadsheet, this will even give your organization the power of full text search on these files

From my experience working with large consulting management company and specialized on Enterprise Content Management, there is a significant value of storing all project deliverables and artifacts into a digital repository and tagging the deliverable, many PMs benefits from the project plans information more than just LL

Good Luck
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1 reply by Betsy Green
Jul 11, 2017 11:32 AM
Betsy Green
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Excellent idea. Thank you!
Network:62



Jul 11, 2017 11:31 AM
Replying to Walid Elgamal
...
If you have SharePoint available for you, you don’t need to create spreadsheet, you can create LL library and use index fields to capture the information you would enter to spreadsheet, this will even give your organization the power of full text search on these files

From my experience working with large consulting management company and specialized on Enterprise Content Management, there is a significant value of storing all project deliverables and artifacts into a digital repository and tagging the deliverable, many PMs benefits from the project plans information more than just LL

Good Luck
Excellent idea. Thank you!

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