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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
May 19, 2009

Let's talk a little about Lessons Learned. Lessons Learned are the key element to make your organization learn from items to assure your organization learns from the work of others. Lessons Learned are documented knowledge for continuous improvement. However, in order to fully utilize lessons learned, one needs to have check points in the PMI process.

The lifecycle with the key lessons learned inputs and outputs.

  • Initiation - During the initiation phase, one should review similar projects in the past lessons learned. It will provide insight into resource needs, those opportunities and flags.

  • Planning - During this phase, I recommend reviewing a lessons learned checklist. This document should have a little check point of what to exploit and watch out for throughout the project

  • Executing - While executing it is a good idea to have a lessons learned log with key learning opportunities maintained. Provide an opportunity for key learnings at every other the project team meetings I try to offset the risk review with key learnings. One meeting agenda has risk review, the next week's agenda has key learnings.

  • Monitoring and Controlling - All identified Key Learning opportunities should be reviewed as a part of monitoring and controlling. This is were you can immediately gain some benefit by incorporating a process that really worked out well or resolving a problem so it does not occur again.

  • Closure - During closure one should go through the posts (Post Benefit Realization, Post Lessons Learned) It needs to be the PM's responsibility to assure that all captured items lessons learned log, post benefits, and post lessons learned

If your organization isn't practicing lessons learned yet, my advice is to plant a seed and watch it grow. Perhaps starting with the post project reviews is a good place or with the key learnings at the project team meetings. Grow both parts of that process until your organization looks ready for the next piece of the pie. I'd go for the checklist adds as a part of closure and reviewing the checklist as a part of planning. Pretty soon, the self-feeding lessons learned loop is just a part of the normal process.

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