Feedback highlights a possible lack of lessons learnt

14 January 2013

Action-Fraction have recently asked members of project management communities on Linked In for their thoughts and comments in relation to the utilisation of Lessons Learnt reviews. Action-Fraction asked members of the communities to consider how valuable lessons learnt are as a process in projects and whether they are actively conducted in their organisations.

The community was widely in agreement that lessons learnt can benefit many and are an asset to the company, but when not undertaken at all, they are a great loss for all future projects undertaken.

The feedback indicated acceptance that lessons learnt as a process during or after projects, were not used or utilised nearly enough. The responses gave many internal and external reasons for reviews not even being carried out. There were similar themes and reasons for lessons learnt not taking place or being embedded in the company as an important process:
• Time constraints at the close of a project where key people have already moved on to the next project
• Lack of budget at the end of the project
• Internal politics and issues surrounding ‘blame’ for project team members or contractors
• Poor methods used to capture and document lessons learnt rendering the exercise ineffective

Of companies that do have lessons learnt processes in place, some felt that the processes could be sharpened up further through:
• Capturing lessons at earlier stages in the project so they are not lost in time
• Improving project records and documentation so lessons are based on fact, not gut instincts
• Finding a method that takes a more independent view
• Improving the structure of the reviews and how they take place
• Finding a solution for capturing the lessons so that they can be used by other teams on future projects

Catherine Wheatcroft, Lead Facilitator of Action-Fraction, comments, “The feedback highlights the endemic problems facing project teams in managing the whole lessons learnt process, the timing of them, how they are conducted and how the lessons can be used on future projects. In a struggling economic climate, there is even more need for organisations to examine how they can make improvements that will positively impact the project life cycle. Now is the time therefore, for organisations to invest in strategies that maximise the value of their most valuable assets – their project team’s knowledge.”

For further insight on the feedback gained or to discuss ways we could help you to improve your lessons learnt processes, please contact us.