Overview • What is a lessons learned Session • Why Capture Lessons Learned • Who Should be Invited • Lessons Learned Formats • How to Perform the Lessons Learned • Listen and Praise • Out of our Control List • How to prevent Lessons Learned from Becoming a Finger Pointing Session • Debriefing Project Sponsors
What is a Lessons Learned Session? • A lessons learned session is a post-project meeting with the entire project team to review various aspects of the recently completed project. • Capturing lessons learned is the process of gathering, documenting and analyzing feedback on events that happened during a project for the benefit of other project teams in the future.
Why Capture Lessons Learned • Purpose of Lessons Learned • The purpose of this meeting is to document lessons so that subsequent projects can benefit from that knowledge. • It brings closure to the project • Provides an opportunity for team members, sponsors and stakeholders to discuss successes that happened during or because of the project • Assists with identifying other things that, in retrospect, might have been better handled if done differently • Provides recommendations to others who might be involved in future projects of a similar type
Why is Lessons Learned Left Out • Moving on to the next project • Fear of finger pointing • Misunderstanding the value of Lessons Learned
Preventing Lessons Learned from being Skipped • Put it on the project plan • Allocate sufficient time and resources on the project plan • Be vigilant about avoiding finger-pointing
Who should be invited • Who should be invited to take part? • The entire project team • This also includes contractors and team members who work off-site • The client • The project sponsor • Advantage: The sponsor can sign any closing documentation • Disadvantage: Project team might be reluctant to discuss things that didn’t go well in front of this person
Lessons Learned Formats • A popular format for discussing and documenting project lessons learned is to create a matrix of characteristics. • What was good • What was bad or needs to be improved • What was beyond your control
Lessons Learned Formats Cont’ • Create a Checklist • A checklist may contain the following categories : - Project Planning- Project Execution and Delivery- Human Factors- Overall Project Management • Lessons Learned Log • Assists with tracking the Lessons Learned • Assists with tracking throughout the project
How to perform Lessons Learned • Gather • Compile • Present • Distribute
Gathering • Gather • Distribute the document for each team member to fill out • Organize meeting to discuss teams responses • Perform the actual debrief like this: • Get someone to act as scribe to write comments on a white board, overhead or flipchart so everyone can see. • If you have a computer and projector available, record comments directly into the computer for easy transcription and file sharing later. • Each team member is asked to name something that went well in the project, and these items are recorded
Praise and Listen • Give everyone a pat on the back after all the good stuff has been posted • Now give everyone a chance to say what they thought needed to be improved • Confirm each person statement • Continue to list the things that can be improved until everyone is satisfied • Next, list all problems that were out of your control.
Prevent Finger Pointing • How can we prevent this lessons learned session from becoming a finger-pointing session? • If you suspect this could happen, ask your team members to create individual lists of items in each category and forward them to you ahead of the meeting • You then take these lists and compile them into a master list that is presented at the meeting • Depersonalize all comments and discuss all issues rationally
Out of our Control • What about items that appear on the “out of our control” list? • Any items in this list should be added to the risk management plan for subsequent projects. • Consider these items in future contingency plans
Compile • Compile • Most organizations require a final status report that summarizes the entire project. • In some companies, conducting the lessons learned session and writing the project summary report are considered part of the project.
Compile Continued • Even if your company doesn’t require a summary report, you should write one because: • It provides you and other project managers with a convenient overview of the project • It forces you to perform a final project analysis • It can be a terrific sales tool for future projects • It can serve as good review for you and your team • Short window of opportunity to do something positive for yourself and your organization • Writing clarifies thinking; putting the group’s thoughts into writing helps you dig down into root causes and document solutions
Present • Upper management needs to be aware of both the successes and failures of each project and the lessons learned from both. • This step also allows upper management to provide their own feedback to the information provided and to "sign off" that the right information has been captured and is being utilized to help with future projects.
Distribute • Distribute Lessons Learn Summary • All project managers are greatly encouraged to read each document and to consider how each of the lessons learned could be applied to their own projects. Any questions regarding the information provided can be addressed either verbally or via email to the PM in charge of the project being discussed.
Implementing Lessons Learned • Appling Lessons Learned to Future Projects • Project Planning • Project Execution and Delivery • Human Factors • Overall Project Management
Tips and Tricks • Lessons learned can provide the current and future project with a wealth of information. Consider the following: • Continually recording & documenting learning lessons • Host some lessons learned meetings • Set your scope • Share the results • Sensitivity
Lessons Learn A TUSC PMO Presentation References: Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK Guide). 3rd Edition, Project Management Institute, Pennsylvania, USA, Nov 2004