Post Implementation Review – Lessons Learned
The last blog post looked at the project post implementation review process and how well requirements were satisfied. Here we deal with how to approach the lessons learned for a post implementation review. When identifying lessons learned, the goal should be to identify what went well, what didn’t go well, and why. At this point, you might be thinking that spending time on a post implementation review, when the next project is around the corner, is difficult to justify or convince our team that you should be doing it at all. To many people, a project post implementation review sounds like a lot of bureaucratic overhead when there are more things to do. Once the project’s finished, we’re hoping to focus our attention on something else! However, lessons learned are findings that could be useful as input to future projects and should form part of the organisations learning process.
Post Implementation Review Discovery Process:
Many of the items in the previous two blog posts can also double as lessons learned. They are particularly useful, because they offer hard measures of success or failure. Our approach involves gathering information that is often more subjective and unanticipated. It can be equally valuable and often more broadly applicable to future projects. It is important to conduct a formal lessons learned exercise with the project team, sponsors, and stakeholders. The main steps to conduct a lessons learned exercise as a fundamental part of the project post implementation review are:
- Be objective,look for hard measures and facts,make judgments on that basis
- Capture positive as well as negative lessons
- Focus on the future and not on blame for shortfalls
- Conduct a customer survey to capture information where you need statistical relevance
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the project management practices
- Focus on events and issues that were “unknowns” early in the project life-cycle
- Be sure enough time has passed to draw conclusions
Capture the most salient points for inclusion in the Post Implementation Review (PIR). It is important to solicit feedback from a diverse audience within each subgroup you gain input from. Make sure you structure the review process so that everyone in the organisation has an opportunity to review finding that may be relevant to their work.
Post Implementation Review Reporting Process
Attach appropriate documentation, which may a useful addition to the PIR such as a final Quality Assurance Report, customer survey results, etc. Add to your organisation’s repository of best practices where you have something new to contribute. Document specific and unique practices and procedures that led to project successes and make recommendations for applying them to similar future projects. Provide only the level of detail necessary to offer a meaningful analysis of events and conclusions. Ensure the PIR is recorded and accessible to anyone who may benefit from it in the future.
The value of conducting a formal lessons learned section as part of the post implementation review is helping future projects, so they will experience fewer problems and setbacks. You don’t need to wait until the entire project finishes. You could capture lessons learned incrementally throughout the project, or at least very soon after it’s over, while the issues are still fresh. In conclusion, by capturing lessons learned and turning it into project foresight, you will achieve far greater long-term success than by blissfully ignoring or forgetting problems, or by simply moving on when a project ends.
JMR Consulting UK Ltd has core project management expertise based on its Financial Services heritage and 15 years of operating in the Finance and IT sectors. Over this period, JMR staff have developed key project management programs and a constant focus on our service philosophy which is at the core of JMR’s business operation.