The Importance of Lessons Learned Sessions

05 Jun

As a project manager, it is important to hold a “lessons learned” session at the end of a project that focus of identifying the project successes/failures and recommendations to improve future performances on projects, to not repeat history, as people learn in history classes. 

Project Manager’s Responsibility/Tips:

  • PM is to coordinate a 1 hour Lessons Learned Session
  • Take notes to capture all items expressed by the team members and archive them for future reference
  • Set the right environment for the meeting that it is an: open, honest, and supportive atmosphere
  • Send out an meeting agenda prior to meeting so that team members identify the things that contributed to the success to the project and items that could have gone better
  • To place the meeting members at ease, make sure you include your own successes and mistakes

Key Participates in Lessons Learned Sessions:

Project Sponsor, Project Requester(s), Project Manager, Project Team Members, Stakeholders Involved in the Project

Topics to Cover in Lessons Learned Session are:

  • What went well on this project/What would you do again on future projects?
  • What did not go well on this project/What would you change on future projects? Discuss ways to improve these challenges.
  • At the completion of the project, did it meet the client specifications/needs without adding additional work?
  • Did the project scheduling work for this project? (Completion dates met?)
  • Did the project meet the budget goal?
  • Did we need to increase/decrease staff for these types of projects?
  • What technological advances were made on this project?
  • Were there any tools/techniques that were developed that would be useful on future projects?
  • Recommendations for future research and development?
  • If we had the opportunity to redo the project from start to finish, what would we have done differently?

What to do with this Feedback:

  • Create a Lessons Learned Knowledge Base (Ex. Word Document/Excel Spreadsheet) and keep it updated as you come across more items
  • Refer to the information before each project to refresh yourself and sets the project manager up for success

Why Is This Feedback Helpful?

  • Provide future project teams with a information resource center that can help increase the effectiveness and efficiency of managing future projects and help prevent them in the future
  • Best way to show value in Lessons-Learned Sessions is to publish them so others can read and use them for future references
  • Great team-building exercise
  • Show the importance of the lessons learned sessions by changing those challenges/failures that occurred in previous projects, and correct these into successes in future projects
  • Helpful when planning future projects, as it allows you to better estimate time and budget, as well as any dependencies for tasks
What tips/experiences do you have with Lessons Learned Sessions?

Posted by on June 5, 2011 in Project Manager Tips


2 responses to “The Importance of Lessons Learned Sessions

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