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Lessons Learnt

Written by Moein Varaei

Do you recall the last time a project did not go as planned? Or not delivered on time? And/or suffered a massive budget overrun?

Did it impact your reputation and your relationship with that client?

When was it? A decade ago? Five years ago? One year ago? A few months ago?

I am fairly confident that many of us can find at least one project that in the past 12 months has been the bane of our existence. Maybe I am being a bit dramatic. But I am sure we can all find a project that we are very unhappy with the way it is progressing.

So, what should be done about it?

A “lessons-learnt” session. Do you do lessons-learnt sessions/workshops with the team for all your projects? Do you have forms and procedures for this? I think a lessons-learnt session must be a constant and regular part of our project management procedures. At the very least, a lessons-learnt session must be held at the close-out stage of all projects to determine the following: lessons learnt image 1

  • Is this a client we want to work for again?
  • Did we adequately vet the client during the Go/No Go stage?
  • Do we want to work with the sub-consultant/sub-contractors used on this job again?
  • Did we select the right team and project manager for this project?
  • Was the client satisfied with our service?
  • Did we miss anything during the bidding stage?
  • Was the bid poorly prepared resulting in problems during the execution stage?
  • Did we achieve the profit we were expecting to achieve?
  • Did we deliver on time?
  • Was project communication an issue to be looked into?
  • Did our team and our project manager perform well on this project? Is there room for improvement? What training do the staff need in order to do better on the next project?
  • Did the project director take his eye off the ball on this project?
  • And much more

To be clear, a lesson-learnt session/workshop should be held whether the project was a catastrophic failure, an event-free project or a major success. We can learn so much from all types of projects.

We need to have the key team members attend the lessons-learnt session. It is not about the blame game. It is not about naming and shaming people. It is about improving our service.

Next Step lessons learnt image 3

Once the lessons-leant session is concluded, what do you do next? In my opinion, the most successful businesses, teams and managers are those who are most responsive to change. So, based on the findings of the lessons-learnt session the management of the firm should be open to and willing to:

  • Make sure the entire team knows about the lessons learnt;
  • Revisit and update their procedures and workflows in light of the lessons learnt;
  • Provide training, coaching and mentoring needed by the project managers and the teams to ensure greater success on the next projects;
  • Create/update registers for the clients and sub-consultants/sub-contractors they are happy to work with;
  • Celebrate the end of a project; and
  • Monitor and ensure the lessons learnt are addressed on all future projects.

Conclusion

In my opinion, if you don’t do a lessons-learnt session the team as a whole won’t ever learn how to do better next time. So, whether a project has gone pear shaped or been a major success, you want to learn from your recent failures and successes to refine your approach to the next project.

Let me know your thoughts.

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