This morning I sent out the following tweet:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people voice their frustrations about how badly their IT project management processes suck because every project is just as painful as the last. It makes you want to grab project managers by the shoulders and say,
“Dude (or dudette), if you want your next project to go more smoothly, you actually have to DO some kind of Lessons Learned exercise. You know that, right?”
Not sure how to go about doing Lessons Learned the right way for your project? No worries, I’m here to help you. A few weeks ago I came across a great article by Sorin Fiscu called, “9 Lessons Learned in Project Management” that does an excellent job of laying out the basic “Do’s and Don’ts” for Lessons Learned meetings.
My favorite part of the article is point 7:
“Improving as we do things: You don’t need to wait for the project to end to have the Lessons Learned meetings. Meetings organized as the project progresses can bring fabulous ideas that help the ongoing project.”
If you’re doing things thoroughly, each status meeting should include a brief section for “the good, the bad, and the ugly”— asking your team members what’s working and what isn’t. And keep track of all that information as you go so you don’t forget. Lessons Learned is about always improving and finding better, more efficient ways to accomplish things.
I also highly recommend applying Lessons Learned feedback directly to your IT project template if it makes sense to do so. That way, your template will be saved and ready to do things better next time you do that kind of project.
Bottom line, Lessons Learned is really the best way to figure out how to do your projects (especially the repeatable kind) better, consistently. If you don’t do it, well, then you’re probably insane.