3 Quick Steps to Capture Lessons Learned
One of the defining characteristics of a project is that it ends. It is planned, executed, tracked, and closed – hopefully delivering on the benefits promised at the outset!
But projects are difficult. The unexpected will happen during a project. Things will go wrong. So when a project is completed successfully, there is certainly reason to celebrate… but not before you close down the project properly!
A lot of project managers are so eager to put a project behind them, that once it’s “finished” they move on way too quickly. But if you take some time to process and reflect on the project that just happened, I guarantee you will be more successful with the project you are about to start.
Here are three quick steps that will help you close a project effectively to capture lessons learned and continuously evolve your project management practices.
3 Quick Steps to Capture Lessons Learned
1. Close the Project Site
Hopefully, you have been using a collaborative site on SharePoint to manage your projects! Although this step may seem administrative, you should bring the project to an orderly close.
Closing the project site indicates the project is closed and ensures project information no longer appears in the reports to senior executives.
Throughout the course of the project, you might have made changes and modifications to the site template to better suit the needs of the project.
Those changes are very important and can be baked into your processes to make project management even easier going forward… more on that in section three!
2. Capture Lessons Learned
During the project, things will have gone well and some things will not have gone so well.
You can use a project post-mortem survey to create a comprehensive report, including a project overview, highlights of what went well, challenges, and a detailed description of lessons learned.
To build a Port-Mortem Template, you must determine what information and questions are crucial to require regarding your completed project.
The main three categories usually are Project Overview, Project Highlights, and Project Challenges.
- What were the original goals and objectives of the project?
- What were the original criteria for project success?
- Was the project completed according to the original expectation?
- What were the major accomplishments?
- What methods worked well?
- What was found to be particularly useful for accomplishing the project?
- What elements of the project went wrong?
- What specific processes need improvement?
- How can these processes be improved in the future?
- Additional comments
If you are using BrightWork to manage your projects, once you have determined the questions you are going to ask, you can start to build out your Post-Mortem Survey by going to your Site Contents and choosing the Project Survey App.
Once you have created your survey, give your team a bit of time to provide thoughtful responses. Some mechanisms to collect the feedback include:
- Meeting: the team talks through project experiences in a facilitated session
- Survey: give people a survey in the collaborative site
- Meeting and Survey: project members answer questions in advance and then meet to discuss and make recommendations
It is important that all project participants take part in the feedback process so the recommendations are constructive from all angles of the project.
3. Update Project Templates
The beauty of SharePoint is that it’s so easy to configure! As we mentioned in section one, you may have modified the project site as you went through the project.
Review those changes and apply them to the project template you use to make new project sites. This is a really practical and efficient way to improve and mature the way you carry out project management.
By capturing and replicating site modifications, you are constantly evolving your project management processes to guide project managers and eliminate the chance of repeating mistakes on future projects.
No more reinventing the wheel every time!
BrightWork Template Design Sync
Here’s a quick scenario … you have just completed a project using a SharePoint project template, to which you made three changes. After the project post-mortem, you realize those changes will make project management easier for everyone, so you want to bake them into the PM processes going forward.
But those modifications need to get rolled out to 37 other sites using that same project template! Try that one-by-one and it’s a lot of legwork in SharePoint (and prone to errors!).
Using BrightWork Template Design Sync, it just takes a few clicks to update a template and apply these changes to project sites created from that template.
Changes can also be pushed to project sites on a case-by-case basis.
BrightWork Design Sync allows you to make changes to how you manage projects and have those changes effortlessly, efficiently, and accurately deployed to multiple projects that are already in flight.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness
Billy is a graduate of the Villanova School of Business and holds a Master’s degree from National University of Ireland, Galway. Outside of BrightWork, he enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.