Lessons Learned is one of my favourite activities in the overall project management process as it teaches me a lot of things like: what to do and what not to before starting the next project. It provides ready-made library to use as a reference for what not to do.
No matter how well you have planned a project is, it will be the case that there are some lessons to be learnt and if you don’t learn from projects then you will not be successful and increase the chance of making the same type of mistakes again. It should be maintained at each stage of the project and more importantly at the end of each phase of your project. It is important to note all type of events which affect the project or can affect it. We as project managers have to record lessons learn so that the knowledge gain can be added to the project management planning templates and shared with others.
Here are some suggestions to help that incorporate lessons learned from previous projects:
- Involve everyone: To make this process effective, you have to tell your team that each and every one expected to bring some lessons learned to the final project review as different people have different thought and lessons based on their roles and responsibilities.
- Reduce or remove barriers to communicating feedback: Our Goal is to make capturing lesson learned as easy and non-obtrusive as possible. Ask team to fill simple form or add file at shared location from where they can fill details so that ideas will be flowing as freely and quickly as possible.
- Value both positive feedback and constructive criticism: We have to make free environment in which anyone freely speak their mind. In order to learn how to plan a software project utilizing lessons learned you must be open to hearing both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Once you have created safe place for people to speak about what could be done to improve the next task or activity, next step is to make fun out of it by considering contest that rewards different categories of suggestions by doing this we can involve more and more people and collect more such details.
- Implement and work on feedback: Sometimes we take feedback but don’t take action on it. We have to log and use lesson learn otherwise there is no meaning of it and chances of same error will be high.
The important thing is to ensure reporting and discussion of what you have learned and the experiences you faced during a project’s life cycle. If you don’t do that then you will not have learnt from practical experience after all our main objective behind this exercise is we don’t want to keep on repeating the same mistakes!