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The value of lessons learned
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Some organizations have no standards for collecting, analyzing, storing, archiving and reusing lessons learned. Therefore, it is losing valuable knowledge gained during projects and sharing those knowledge for future use. In fact project managers may be able to reduce project timeline or cost by learning from past projects, and by avoiding risks or past failures. Many organizations doesn't have a formal method for recording lessons learned, ultimately there is no easy way to find lessons learned from previous projects.

As a project manager, how do we overcome the barriers and implement making effective use of lessons learned on projects?
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Anish -

There have been a number of discussions in this forum on good practices for lessons learned, but to recap a few of the common ones:

1. Capture lessons frequently over the life of a project and not just at the end of a phase or the overall project

2. Categorize and action lessons appropriately - reminders, blockers & true knowledge all need to be dealt with in a different manner

3. Bake lessons into organization standards rather than expecting team members to search for them

Kiron
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 03, 2017 5:38 PM
Anish Abraham
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Kiron,
Thanks for the info.

In the past I was team member of a complex project that lasted over 3 years, but we never captured lessons learned during or after the project. My understanding is that soon after we implement the project, the project manager was assigned to another project and we were told that there is no time for capturing lessons learned. Even though the project was a success at the end, it was not a smooth project.

I don't know the reason why the management didn't support lessons learned activities, But I'm sure this could have provided insight into the reasons why organization often fail to implement the lessons learned activities. Perhaps in private sectors there is a structured way of capturing lessons learned.

Anish
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And I would add to Kiron's comments, measure the usage of lessons learned for their effectiveness. These will reveal which were most beneficial, which were used a lot, the contributors etc.
Network:1365



Dec 03, 2017 11:55 AM
Replying to Kiron Bondale
...
Anish -

There have been a number of discussions in this forum on good practices for lessons learned, but to recap a few of the common ones:

1. Capture lessons frequently over the life of a project and not just at the end of a phase or the overall project

2. Categorize and action lessons appropriately - reminders, blockers & true knowledge all need to be dealt with in a different manner

3. Bake lessons into organization standards rather than expecting team members to search for them

Kiron
Kiron,
Thanks for the info.

In the past I was team member of a complex project that lasted over 3 years, but we never captured lessons learned during or after the project. My understanding is that soon after we implement the project, the project manager was assigned to another project and we were told that there is no time for capturing lessons learned. Even though the project was a success at the end, it was not a smooth project.

I don't know the reason why the management didn't support lessons learned activities, But I'm sure this could have provided insight into the reasons why organization often fail to implement the lessons learned activities. Perhaps in private sectors there is a structured way of capturing lessons learned.

Anish
Network:1141



Good comments from the group.

I would like to add that the most mportant part of lessons learned is that it is not just filed away as distractions come your way. Plan a course of action to address each issue. Future lessons learned should not have the same issues coming up again.
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Thank you all for your valuable comments and suggestions.
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If you don't have a PMO to turn lessons learned into updated organization process assets, consider setting up a Best Practices group that can ensure this happens during each project closure, not after.
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I make it required to review the previous lessons learned, and determine if they apply to the specific project at hand. This is a step in the first pahses of a project, done prior to the formal kick-off. If the organization doesn't have a formal database of lessons learned, interviews with past PMs, etc, can be used.
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1 reply by Anish Abraham
Dec 08, 2017 10:49 AM
Anish Abraham
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Thanks Gary, for the valuable feedback.
Network:1365



Dec 08, 2017 10:42 AM
Replying to Gary Hamilton
...
I make it required to review the previous lessons learned, and determine if they apply to the specific project at hand. This is a step in the first pahses of a project, done prior to the formal kick-off. If the organization doesn't have a formal database of lessons learned, interviews with past PMs, etc, can be used.
Thanks Gary, for the valuable feedback.

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