Lessons learned we both know that it’s a critical aspect of project management but for some reason you don’t do it regularly.
Why well most likely you don’t see benefits of this process? that’s why I am going to share my three-level system of lessons learned that helped me improve my engineering project management process throughout all years of my career.
Purpose of Lessons Learned
so what’s the main benefit of the lessons learned process and it’s simple it’s a continuous improvement of your project management process and project management culture inside.
Your organization so how does it work you do a project you create deliverables and after each deliverable you collect lessons learned based on what work on this deliverable.
What didn’t work well for this deliverable and so on likewise you collect lessons learned for the whole project at the end. Ideally you capture all these lessons learned in the company’s wiki or some other storage. Where all project managers can see them, and you do it for the benefits of the future projects so. Whenever a new project manager starts a project in your organization, he takes all these lessons learned get through them and tries to avoid the same mistakes identify the same risk for his or her project. A new approach that works and is efficient for these kinds of projects and as always there is a big catch.so, there is an assumption that your organization has a standardized project management approach so lessons learned collected from one project will be applicable for the next project in the line. This way you’ll be comparing apples to apples you will be comparing performance of the similar projects with the same approach to project management but in the real world.
Lessons Learned Process in Project Management
It’s really true and in just a minute we’ll talk about how to overcome this problem in my free level system and still i want to set correct expectations as to your ability to make changes on the organizational. The experience not the knowledge in project management but authority to influence other stakeholders to make this change. That’s why i developed the system where you can focus your efforts on things that you control that you can change on your project and you don’t need any approvals or authority to make these changes all right without further ado let’s dive deep into these three levels systems of lessons learned and it starts with the weekly retrospectives and yes you do just like the scrum prescribes but even if you don’t have iterations.
You can still run this meeting every two or three weeks or after you finished a deliverable. The big idea here you don’t try to solve all the possible problems of the company on this level. You only try to focus on collaboration on communication on the requirement engineering for the current work and maybe some processes and workflows that the team uses on daily basis at this level. You try to improve tactical performance of your team and you try to reduce the number of small things that demotivate your team members on daily basis and believe me small things matter. How do you do it in practice you plan a meeting you gather your whole team in one place in one zoom call and you want to color just three things first you ask them what went well then you ask them what went wrong and finally.
You will collect all these feedback from all team members and you will group it by the sources of problems or the best practices and the next idea. Here is that you need to select only three things that you will act upon to improve this process you will either fix three problems or you will make three best practices that work well to stick for the next period of time the most important thing here for you as a project manager is that you need to ensure that you will act upon these three things and you will do everything possible to make them happen.
That they will either stick or you will solve the problem otherwise your team members will see that there is no benefit in collecting lessons learned that they lead to nothing you want to avoid it you want to show. That you care about lessons learned you care about improving your project and their work and by the way you can use an online tool to run this retrospective meeting so people can simultaneously provide this feedback and you can vote in them and even develop an action plan for the selected items and it saves a lot of meeting time because you will simply vote and then discuss the action plan for the selected items.
so the next level is the deliverables level and you heard me saying this a lot on this channel a project manager should always work towards creating tangible pieces of the project.
so why it’s important
well because you have tasks assigned to this deliverable you have estimates of time and cost you have risks assigned to this deliverable you have resources you communicated on this deliverable and so on.
so you have numbers you have something to measure against so as the saying goes. you can’t manage what you can’t measure and as you understand the agenda for this meeting is a bit different because you’ll be comparing the planned values with the actual values of the team so at this level it’s important to focus on the problems with estimation of time and costs with the tracking of the project scope.