12.5. Review Lessons Learned
We've emphasized lessons learned throughout the project lifecycle because capturing what you've learned as you go is the most efficient and effective method by far. The lessons learned meeting should be somewhat informal and should not devolve into a project audit. Have everyone gather their lessons learned (if you have not been gathering these in a centralized location periodically throughout the project) and have everyone prepare a brief presentation (5 minutes) to discuss the most important or useful lesson learned, the craziest lesson learned, etc. Compile and discuss the lessons learned, including what worked and what didn't work, which might include:
Do not allow the session to spiral down into a blame session. Share what worked and what didn't work. Focus on the behaviors, processes, outcome, and problems, not specific people or personalities. Take this to the next level and get the team to discuss how these lessons learned can be incorporated in the future. It's not enough to simply list what you've "learned"the real learning comes from understanding how that information can be applied in the future. When well managed, this session can be interesting, enlightening, and extremely useful. Once you've talked through your lessons learned, capture the final data and include it in a document to be included in the final project plan. This will help IT teams on future projects and will provide practical historical data for planning, estimating and managing future projects.