In this article, we will take a look at lessons learned questions in project management and share an example template to help you to write down the important project issues. According to the PMBOK Guide, lessons learned are the learning gained from the process of performing the project. Although formally conducted lessons learned sessions take place during the project close-out, documenting and revisiting lessons learned should be an ongoing process throughout the life cycle of a project. Documenting lessons learned aims to use the data gathered from experience in order to;
- Enhance the possibility of recurrence of positive outcomes
- Prevent the recurrence of negative outcomes
Basically, lessons learned process include Identifying, Documenting, Analyzing, Storing and Retrieving steps to guide the project teams to manage their current and future projects successfully.
Lessons Learned Example Questions
Before to share a lessons learned template, let’s talk about the questions to be asked during sessions. Lessons learned identify and document positive and negative experiences and the project teams take corrective action regarding those issues. You need to ask below questions to yourself while documenting important project issues.
- What was learned from project management?
- What was learned from project planning and scheduling?
- What went well?
- What did not go well?
- What needs to be changed?
- What worked well for the project team?
- What were the anticipated project events?
- Were the project milestones met? If not, why?
Of course, questions are not limited to the above. You may insert additional questions regarding your project deliverables to the list.
After answering these questions, you will understand what you did well and what are your mistakes. You will gather a lot of information regarding positive and negative experiences and document them through a lessons learned template.
Basically, positive experiences include;
- Ideas that lower the cost
- Practices that shorten the completion time
- Ideas that improve productivity
- Practices that facilitate teamwork and communication
Negative experiences include;
- Undesirable outcomes
- Low-quality products
Lessons learned is an ongoing process that should be compiled, formalized, and stored through the life cycle of the project. At this stage, a lessons learned template is helpful to list both positive and negative outcomes.
Lessons Learned Session
A lessons learned session is conducted to focus on the positive and negative issues, success and failures to provide recommendations to improve the performance. Therefore, sessions should be conducted regularly depending on the size and complexity of the project.
During a session, participants typically discuss the following questions;
- Did the delivered product meet the customer requirements?
- Did the delivered product meet the quality standards?
- Was the product delivered on time?
- Did the selected project management methodology suit the project?
- Were negative risks mitigated?
Lessons learned should be tracked through a formalized system by the project team. So that the stored project data of the current project can be used to improve the processes of future projects. For that purpose, a lessons learned template helps project teams to document lessons effectively.
Lessons Learned Report
A lessons learned report template is created to gather team recommendations throughout the life cycle of a project. Assembling meetings to run through the lessons learned questions will be helpful for project teams to discuss and document critical items. If the meeting is not assembled at least once before the project ends, too much information may be lost.
Lessons learned process aims to make improvements within the project. It is important to capture the causes of success and failure to use this information for future projects. After collecting and storing historical data, it should be shared across the company to ensure that everyone benefits from the experiences of the project.
Whether it is a small change or an extensive process improvement, it is important to record successes and negative outcomes, to improve the processes of the next project. Because just identifying something is not enough. You need to understand the root causes of the issue and the impact it gives to the project. That’s why you and your project team need to review the improvements.
A range of templates, registers and contracts are created by organizations to assist their project management processes. Organizational process assets include plans procedures, templates, and lessons learned to improve the management of the project.
Documenting historical data is as important as understanding the reasons behind project issues. As we discussed above, just identifying an issue is not enough to make improvements. You need to understand the origins and the impacts of the issue to set up recommendations. It is a good practice to breakdown the issue into three steps: Problem, Impact, and Recommendation. After you capture all the data regarding the issue, you need to make edits if needed and store through a Database or Webserver.
Lessons Learned Template Example
Here below you can find a template that is created to help you to write down the insights you’ve gathered with your team. Note that keeping each item short (not more than1-2 sentences) will be helpful for simplicity. They should be clearly written to address relevant improvements.
In this article, we shared a lessons learned template example to look back on your project and recognize what you did well or bad. Thus, you will understand your mistakes and avoid repeating them. You can document historical data and recommendations by using a multi-project directory to access whenever you need to.
How often do you think about your positive and negative experiences in projects? What was the most important problem you discovered during a lessons learned session? Share your experiences with the community through the comments box below.