Lessons on Lessons Learned

face-mask1As an incognito project manager, I found it very refreshing to watch and participate in discovering and applying lessons learned throughout the life of the project.  It seemed like just about every other week we were talking about some level of lessons learned and how we were going to apply them – both to this project and the next.


Our project manager included these lessons learned in reports to our sponsor and governance committee which consisted of nearly all of our key stakeholders – once again helping to manage expectations going forward.


Many of the lessons seemed to fall into categories which I believe are quite common and applicable to all types of projects as follows:


§      Strive to make better estimates of time, money, and effort required for project tasks.  This includes the time required of related subject matter experts and other suppliers and contributors. 


§      Include IT and other key stakeholders early and often to ensure you are aware of and can respond to how they are impacted by the project.


§      Anticipate a lack of internal procedures and documentation.  What people think has been thought completely through usually isn’t .


§      Involve the right “others” and get feedback to minimize re-work.  Remember, you will rarely get it right the first time.  It’s better to put forth a draft or prototype than to think you are done and then find yourself playing catch-up at the end of the project.


The lessons are out there.  It’s up to us the project manager to keep the process of identifying and applying them front and center as you go along.







2 thoughts on “Lessons on Lessons Learned”

  1. User Avatar
    Anuradha Subramanian

    I’m glad you wrote on this topic. I am surprised to see that “post-mortems” are often skipped by project managers. Project managers are in a unique position. They have the ear of the executive team and the trust of the project team. This gives them the ability to spot the issues, consolidate and present suggestions for improvements, and become the facilitators for key process improvements. I have started to make “lessons learned” activities a part of my project sprints and waterfall plans (whichever applies to a project).

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