Keep Track of Your Project Lessons Learned in SharePoint
Ah, that big scary data center move project is coming to a close. Just a few vendor contracts to sort out and then we immediately close the project and move on to the next big scary project, right? NO! Not so fast partner. Properly close your project with a good ‘ole lessons learned process. “C’mon, really?” you might say. “But I want to be done with this and call it officially closed already!”
Well, what if I told you that a spoonful of lessons learned medicine today will very likely prevent a pound of trouble/headache/embarrassment later?
It’s true – with a properly documented cache of those project processes that went well, and those that need improvement next time around, you’ll be sure to emulate the good that transpired over the course of the project, and avoid a repeat of the, well…not so good at all.
Now that I hopefully have your buy-in (at least a bit!), I’ll provide some pointers for how to do this in a practical, concrete manner in SharePoint, that master of project management toolsets.
I like to include two aspects to my “Close” section (represented as a Quick Launch heading down the left side of the web page) in a project management SharePoint site – a lessons learned survey to be sent out to the project team, and a mechanism for capturing discussion points from a subsequent team meeting that will follow the survey about a week or two later.
For the project review survey, I use the SharePoint “Survey” list template to add a new survey list to the site (a survey list allows you to create questions and view graphical summaries of the team’s responses). Here’s a screenshot of a simple enough survey with open-ended questions allowing your team to collect and share their thoughts in advance of the soon to be scheduled closing team meeting.
This strategy helps to avoid uncomfortable moments of silence during the closing team meeting when folks tell you they can’t think of anything to contribute because they didn’t have time to think about it in advance.
Now on to the second half of the Closing section, the means by which to capture the hopefully lively discussion points that come from the subsequent team meeting. You have at least two options here – a Wiki page (think MS Word-type of a page in SharePoint), or a custom SharePoint list. I favor the latter approach as it allows you to organize and report on the results in various structured ways. The easiest way to do this is to start with the SharePoint “Custom List” template, and add the following columns:
- Submitted By (a person field)
- Opportunity (a choice column with choices such as “Worked Well” and “Area for Improvement”)
- Date Identified
- Area of Learning (a choice column with choices such as “Sales”, “Design”, “Installation”, “Project Management”)
- Type of Learning (a choice column with choices such as “Customer Interaction”, “Customer Expectations”, “Responsiveness”, “Issue Resolution”)
- Project Phase
- Lessons Learned Description
- Background Information
- Probability of Reoccurring (“High”, “Medium”, “Low”)
- Impact to Project (“High”, “Medium”, “Low”)
Once you get the Survey and Lessons Learned lists configured just right, save them as site list templates to easily add them to other project sites so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time!
Finally, add links to these two lists in a good spot on your project site’s Quick Launch – here’s a screenshot example of this (the closing Quick Launch heading is named “Project Review” in this instance):
At some point in your continuous improvement cycle, I suggest creating some reports or filtered/categorized lists that pull from the lessons learned list data and are presented in an easy to reach site page. This will prevent the data from staying trapped down below in a list, and will help bring the data alive to improve all your collaborative project efforts.