Revolving Improvements

22 February 2013 | By Catherine Wheatcroft

Every project is different, different deliverables, different teams, and different challenges – as project managers we know this already. Everything changes from the moment you have delivered one project; you reset everything and start all over again. But do project managers look at the detail of what should change with the changing project brief? Do we stop often enough to consider progress and spend time looking for changes that could be made to the overall improvement of project delivery?

If a previous project did not go well, exceeded budget or was just not delivered on time, it should, in principal be easy to make quantifiable improvements to the next project. But even the best-run projects that gain recognition for excellence – like the Olympic Stadium have cracks and chinks in the armour that can be used to make significant improvements next time around. An entire report was commissioned following the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games construction programme, focusing solely on lessons learned.

The question that project managers need to be asking is how can I find out about these opportunities to make bigger and better improvements and where can they be found for me to learn from and implement in the next project.

All project-based businesses strive for continuous improvement, projects that run on time, do not exceed budget and are deemed a success and project managers have a huge part to play in this. Project managers need to know which are the tools and techniques that they may be currently using and do not deliver success. To do this they must take on the successes and learn the lessons from past projects, so that the ‘normal’ practice and the standard ethos is about constantly reviewing success and failure in order to learn from it.

The big picture result of this is better run projects and less of the negative, digging headlines in the press. But at the project management level we are looking at improved skills, better and more efficient resources, skilled project managers that strive for change, documented lessons that the entire organisation will benefit from and the very best processes and procedures underpinning everything.

The best strategy surely is to review projects for the lessons to learn from and revolve these lessons around projects time and again, alongside the new lessons from the last project.