Being able to document lessons learned after a project is complete (or even in the middle of it) is one of the biggest responsibilities a project manager has on a project. If one does not understand the mistakes of past projects, then one is doomed to repeat them over and over. In this role, the project manager becomes part historian and part archivist. Lessons learned are not just useful in the business world; they can be helpful on any project in which one is involved - at home or in your volunteer work or in your own personal hobbies. Lessons learned can make all the difference on future projects and help them to succeed, but first, they must be documented correctly.
Turning it all around is what project management is all about right? The excitement, the adrenaline rush of jumping in and saving the day. Or saving your own project from near disaster and ending up with a favorable outcome. Well, most of us would rather not have all that excitement if we can avoid it. But the truth is most projects fail in some way or another – more than half of all projects do by most counts, studies and surveys.
So while we would like to talk about the project successes out there…and we often do talk about best practices, how to succeed and what ‘x’ number of steps might guarantee success (which can never really be true), the reality is that we must also talk about the failures and what we can learn from them so we turn today’s failures into tomorrow’s success stories. What we need to do is learn as much as we can from history so that it doesn’t repeat itself. We need to make the most of our’s and others’ bad situations.
Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned on the projects we run as project managers. That easily goes without saying because we’ve all had projects that experienced bumps in the road or redirections at some point during the engagement. If it’s minor, then you can fairly easily redirect the project and activities, reassign things where necessary, make slight adjustments to the plan and budget, and be moving forward very quickly in the right, new direction.
If the problem, issue, redirection, or project change is more major, then replanning is going to involve more extensive processes to make sure that you and project team have everything covered. If you find yourself in this situation, I have found that there are six key questions or actions to consider – basically as a checklist – to make sure you’ve covered all of your bases. After all, it can almost be like a mini (or major) restart on the project. You don’t want to miss some critical replanning process or task and have to deal with it later on.
Biggest challenge to project profitability is capturing costs
Want to know 5 project lessons to take into 2014?
Find out what decision makers in UK project based businesses think about the pain points and challenges faced with project management and key areas for improvement when running a profitable project. Based on the findings from the research, we also outline 5 project lessons you should take into 2014.
The survey, which was carried out earlier this year, was completed by 100 project owners, decision makers and key personnel within organisations who run projects and provide services to other businesses in the UK.
Author: Brad Egeland