Lessons Learned

Lessons can be learned from each and every project, even if the project is a failure. Most companies do not document lessons learned because employees are reluctant to sign their names to documents that indicate that lessons were learned from mistakes that were made. Employees end up repeating the mistakes that others have made and end up learning from their own mistakes rather than those of other people.

How to implement lessons learned is a key problem. Recently, a company successfully completed a project that required several innovative decisions and approaches in the way business was being conducted. During the postimplementation meeting, senior management decided that the entire company should benefit from the knowledge gained on this project. The executive sponsor then dismantled the project team and assigned each team member to a different unit of the company thinking that this knowledge would carry over. The experiment failed and soon all lessons learned were forgotten.

Today, emphasis is being placed on documenting lessons learned. Boeing maintains diaries of lessons learned on each airplane project. Another company conducts a postimplementation meeting where the team is required to prepare a three- to five-page case study documenting the successes and failures on the project. The case studies are then used by the training department in preparing individuals to become future project managers. Some companies even go to extremes, mandating that project managers keep project notebooks documenting all decisions as well as a project file with all project correspondence. On large projects, this may be impractical.

Most companies seem to prefer postimplementation meetings and case study documentation. The problem is when to hold the postimplementation meeting. One company uses project management for new product development and production. When the first production run is complete, the company holds a postimplementation meeting to discuss what was learned. Approximately six months later, the company conducts a second postimplementation meeting to discuss customer reaction to the product. There have been situations where the reaction of the customer indicated that what the company thought they did right turned out to be a wrong decision. A follow-up case study is now prepared during the second meeting.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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