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Capturing Lessons Learned Information

Best Practices for Collecting Lessons Learned Information on your Projects!

Today’s project managers do not collect Lesson’s Learned information about their projects. We can show project managers survey-after-survey on why collecting this information is valuable and why projects fail, but if they don’t tie that failing to collecting and applying lessons learned information, it won’t matter to them. I have seen this happen for years and years across countless project managers.

Why is that? Why do project managers not collect Lessons Learned information on their projects? 

What are some of the main reasons that I have seen and heard directly from project managers?

  • Lack of time
  • Don’t care, it will never happen to them
  • Lack of management support
  • Lack of resources
  • Lack of guidelines – don’t know how? 
  • Lack of centralized knowledge base to store information
  • Why? It will never be used again

Some of these reasons seem valid, and I get that, but really that’s the issue. Project managers believe strongly that they don’t have the time, no support from management, lack of resources…etc. Therefore, that is why I believe we have this fundamental problem in the project management industry today. Project Managers do not collect Lessons Learned information on their projects!

I believe the fundamental reason that project managers don’t collect Lessons Learned information is they don’t value or use those learnings. They collect the information at the end of the project, store it in a log somewhere to never be seen again. As we go through this material, I am going to convince you to change that process and make this information critical to the success of your project. 

After running projects for over 30+ years, here are some of my why’s on why I find collecting and apply lessons learned information is so valuable. But important to acknowledge that you need to find your own why’s for your projects before you will even think about doing it. 

  • Course corrections throughout the project!
  • Reduce making the same mistakes other project managers make!
  • Make your life easier because you are following a repeatable and easy process!
  • Keeps you on top of project trends and you can adjust where needed!

What is important to acknowledge that this kind of best practice does not financially reward you (money-wise), but it sure will help you from a career perspective. 

Think about it from a manager’s perspective. If I have 10 project managers and 6 of them are collecting lessons learned information and doing ongoing course corrections and the other 4 are not, who do you think I am going to look at to manage my higher profile projects? Which PM is likely to be more successful, someone tweaking and adjusting what is happening throughout the project, or waiting until the end? When you are constantly delivering higher profile projects, this can only be beneficial to your career. 

Let’s jump into a series of best practices that project managers should follow on their projects. These best practices will apply to any type of project. I have done this over a series of 30+ years. This stuff works! 

Wait, wait before we go too far, I have actually created you an ebook and a full webinar on the topic. If you are interested, check out Bill Dow’s PMP training site here and grab your copy of the eBook and the secret link to the full webinar. Collecting Lessons Learned Information

If you like this article, I am sure you will like this one on change management. Check it out here: How to Implement Change both Personally and Professionally! you are going to love it. If you are in the PMO space, and looking for my PMO articles, I say start on this one: How to Build a Project Management Office(PMO) Checklist in 12 Steps!

What do you think?

Thanks…
Bill Dow, PMP

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BillDow
Bill Dow, a PMP-certified expert in Project Management Offices (PMOs), has co-authored books on the subject. With over 20 years of teaching experience and having built 10 PMOs across 4 companies, including 13 years at Microsoft, he currently serves as the PMO Director at the University of Washington Medical.

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