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Learn from closed projects

Project reviews test whether or not the objectives specified in the project plan have been achieved, as well as assessing the achievement of the benefits identified in the business case – the original plan.

How can you maximise the learning from your project? If you can learn from your failures, even a disastrous project could result in added value for your company, your team and yourself.

You can reflect with your team on the problems you faced, the causes and the solutions you found. Some team members may point out problems that have not been detected before. Were there some flaws in your monitoring and control loop? Can this problem be detected and eliminated in the future?

You can also trace the good practices developed during the project. Can they be replicated elsewhere? Heerkens (2005) highlights the results of this phase:

  1. Invite stakeholders to submit input, even anonymously, and not only at the end of the project
  2. Examine successes as well as problems
  3. Be sensitive in investigating critical issues, such as failures and individual performance issues
  4. Keep your notes up to date
  5. In drafting your lessons learned, do not list only ‘what went well’ and ‘what didn’t’, but explain how you detected and solved problems
  6. Try to generalise your conclusions for the audience of your company
  7. Include lessons learned reviews as a front-end activity in the new project lifecycle.

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Fundamentals: Project Management

The Open University