11.28.2011

What are We Learning from Our Projects?

Recently, I had the chance to speak in person with Dr. Willis Thomas, author of a new book published in November 2011 titled The Basics of Project Evaluation and Lessons Learned. His book provides the framework to conduct lessons learned using the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as a standard.

When I asked Willis why he chose the PMBOK approach for lessons learned he replied:

Project managers trust and are comfortable with the PMBOK for five Process Groups (Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring/Controlling and Closing) and nine Knowledge Areas (Communications, Cost, Human Resources, Integration, Procurement, Quality, Risk, Scope and Time). Many project managers run projects using these categories.

The approach I take is very simple; to overlay what has been done right, done wrong and could have been done differently using these 14 process group and knowledge area categories. This matrix, creates a 5x9 table of 45 categories, with three variables per category (right, wrong, differently), which results in potentially 135 elements for review.

This compartmentalizes the collection process for lessons learned so that it is situation-specific. The project team can then determine what lessons to review -- that is, what went right during project initiation regarding communications. Of course, each factor should allow for comments to detail characteristics of the lesson.

A primary goal for lessons learned should not only be to avoid making the same mistakes in projects (summative reflection), but to strategize for improvement (formative thinking). This approach can help project managers to be consistent in their approach to evaluating projects.

What do you think of Willis' advice? Have any of you used this process?

24 comments:

Lumen Fox said...

I have gone through that book, it provides important information for determining the failure or achievements of tasks, a methodical method for conducting training discovered is critical to the ongoing achievements of your tasks, programs, and investment portfolios. In short to deal with everything to make a success to any projects.

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