Published September 29, 2021
Corporations run large and small project initiatives all the time to launch new products, implement new technology and roll out growth strategies. While every project has defined goals and metrics that are important, the lessons you learn along the way are just as critical, too. Many businesses have been challenged on projects that didn’t go as planned, whether due to unexpected equipment delays, resource shortages or sudden changes to the scope of work or project objectives. When these things inevitably happen, the best course of action is to make sure the lessons your team learns as a result are successfully documented for future projects. After all — setbacks are often learning opportunities that can better prepare you for future challenges.
Let’s look at a recent example. A client proposed an initiative to better service their guests with roaming waitstaff in a very large venue. While reviewing the plan and scoping the project as a strategic consultative partner, another project manager recalled challenges and delays they’d encountered taking a similar approach for a past project. Fortunately, the project manager had clearly documented the lessons learned from that closed program.
Now equipped with this valuable insight, the team was able to modify its strategic approach. This in turn led to cost- and time-savings. Setting clear expectations and outlining prior challenges upfront helped us produce quality results faster and with fewer errors. It just goes to show how considering lessons learned from past objectives helps both your partners and consultants deliver on goals better and more efficiently.
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Creating a “lessons learned” document should be a part of all your projects. While you may be tempted to close out initiatives quickly at the finish line, creating and following a checklist of lessons learned will save you and your organization time, money and credibility in the future.
Here are nine best practices when creating your “lessons learned” checklist:
Whether you’re a new project manager or a seasoned veteran, recalling lessons learned can help you improve the success of future projects. It’s easy to get started; there are many tools available for you to use. You can opt for traditional office software, such as Excel, OneNote or Word, or even go digital with project-tracking tools like Smartsheet or Trello. For larger project-management teams, align with other managers to find a single tracking tool and template that everyone can use to ensure consistency across all projects. There’s great value in simplifying procedures and using the same templates. A basic template should include the following details:
Start your next project off strongly as the project manager. Build your own “lessons learned” practice and leverage these tips to become efficient across initiatives. It’s an easy investment of time and effort that can have a huge impact on the success and efficiency of future projects. Getting started is often the most difficult part of any task, but once you’ve kicked off and fallen into a routine, documenting lessons learned can be easy. Set yourself up for consistent, long-term success with your next project delivery.