As per 11th Jan 2016 PMP changes, a new task –Task 6 added under Monitoring and Controlling Process Group.Capture, analyze , and manage lessons learned using lessons learned management techniques in order to enable continuous improvement .This task aims at involvement of project manager in lessons learned management techniques relating specifically to how to manage the process of gathering and sharing lessons learned on your project.
Lessons Learned provides an opportunity for reflection after the project has been completed. It is useful to reflect on what worked well with the project and what could be improved upon. The Lessons Learned are stored with the other project documents and available for review in the future.
If documented and disseminated properly, lessons learned provide a powerful tool for sharing ideas for improving work processes, operation, quality, safety and cost effectiveness, etc. and helps improve management decision making and worker performance through every phase of a project.
Lessons learned should be done throughout the project. It is said to be an iterative process that needs to be constantly reviewed by incorporating some milestones throughout the project where you do a checkpoint review.
The lessons learned approach describes how the document will be created, what it will consist of, and how lessons will be categorized. It is important that the lessons learned approach is covered in the initial stages of project planning. The reason for this is that a methodology along with an appropriate set of tools should be established to capture these lessons throughout the project’s lifecycle.
The contents of the lessons learned document (or lessons learned log ) should also be determined ahead of time. They should be detailed enough to provide value for future use and the contents should be consistent with other lessons learned documents or organizational standards.
The categorization of lessons learned is another consideration. Many organizations categorize lessons by project lifecycle phase or by the knowledge area that the lesson applies to.
Lessons learned should draw on both positive experiences– good ideas that improve project efficiency or save money, and negative experiences– lessons learned only after an undesirable outcome has already occurred.
Every documented lesson learned should contain Project information and contact information for additional detail, a clear statement of the lesson, a background summary of how the lesson was learned ,benefits of using the lesson and suggestion how the lesson may be used in the future.
Lessons Learned Meetings could be conducted which can be formal or informal. Both can work but it certainly need a formal outcome.It is always better if we have a facilitator for such meetings. They can keep everyone on track.Lessons learned sessions don’t deliver any value when the discussion only focuses on what went wrong.
Here are some lessons learned project meeting questions :
What worked well? What didn’t work well? What was challenging? What bottlenecks or hurdles were experienced that impacted the project?What lessons can we learn about that for future projects? Were there any unintended consequences? What skills did you need that were missing and how did you manage? Were the right people involved at the right time? What should we do differently next time? How are we going to do it differently?
At project end, conduct lesson learned session to solicit feedback .This information can be captured anonymously so people feel free to give real feedback because some lessons learned could be negative .Obtain feedback as quickly as possible to avoid people forgetting the challenges faced during the course of a project.
Disseminate lesson learned to other projects if appropriate. Incorporate project lessons learned into organization lessons learned.Archive project lessons learned along with historical project data.
Reuse Lessons – Reuse lessons learned from past projects to help better manage current projects.
The ultimate purpose of documented lessons learned is to provide future project teams with information that can increase effectiveness and efficiency and to build on the experience that has been earned by each completed project.