What is Your Process for Capturing Lessons Learned?

The above question is from our January 15 edition of PMP in Practice. We would love to hear your comments as well!

In theory, capturing lessons learned at the end of a project sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t want to reflect on what was done right, what could be done better, and then apply those lessons to the next project? In practice, though, it is sometimes a very hard thing to do. Below are some of the great ideas that others suggested to not only capture lessons learned, but to implement them as well.

  • The most important factor is accessibility to the lessons learned once they have been recorded. Having a system in place that makes sure the lessons learned knowledge base is consulted and used in the future is critical. The system needs to provide a ready reference library. This includes an excellent search capability and well thought out keyword or classification systems. Project managers and leads need to know they can consult the knowledge base, quickly find relevant lessons learned, and apply them to their current project.
  • One technique that can be quite effective is to hold project team lessons learned “huddles” at certain milestone check points throughout my projects. While it does require intentional planning; if you include it on your schedule as you would any other milestone review, it is easier not to overlook. One of the most valuable benefits to this approach is that you do not need to wait until your next project to apply these lessons. In many cases, you can apply them immediately to the project still underway.
  • Sometimes if the Lessons Learned responsibility is taken up by someone not directly related to the project it works better. This person can take an unbiased view of the entire project. This person will need to have exceptional facilitation skills, however.

Others pointed out that they do a process review as part of each and every meeting. This takes a total of 5-minutes and the next meeting starts off with a quick review of the application of the previous lesson learned on the project. All great suggestions!

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