Implementing a Lessons Learnt System

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kwalford
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Hi All,

I am currently looking at setting up a brand new Lessons Learnt system in our PMO and require advice please.

Background:

We do not currently have a system (nor any processes) in place for capturing, storing and disseminating lessons learnt from previous projects. All our projects are IT/Telecoms and a lot of our projects are similar to historic projects.

The proposed system:

We have a global network drive (folder) which I am currently looking to add sections to in order to have some structure to the lessons learnt folder. From looking at research, it seems key to have a mechanism of easily reviewing lessons learnt from similar projects, and therefore a filing system (sub-folders within the main folder) for identifying similar previous projects is required.

Any advice please for setting up a brand new lessons learnt system on a network drive would be welcomed, thank you.
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dhaughey
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Currently, we are reviewing Google Docs and Microsoft Office 360 for sharing and collaborating on project documents. At first sight, they both look good and something that will be easy to use. I'd consider something like this over a shared drive as I usually find versioning documents and merging changes from different versions soon kills the process and the shared drive ends up not being used.

My standard lessons learned approach is to ask three questions:
  1. What went right?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What could have been better?
One person is appointed scribe to capture the points in a lessons learned meeting. I'm thinking about changing this from a meeting to a document collaboration using one of the aforementioned tools. I'm going to trial a week long collaboration asking people to contribute their lessons under three headings (matching my questions above) and then running a virtual meeting to review and discuss the points made. This approach could be useful if you are working with geographically dispersed teams.

I'm planning to create a "Read This First" list of lessons, which summarises the most important and frequently occurring lessons so people aren't required to trawl through a large number of documents. I'd like the PMO to have a similar list of lessons and be able to talk to people about the issues they may encounter before their project starts, and not expect people to do all the lessons discovery themselves.

I like Derry Simmel's quote, which seems to sum up the benefit of a good lessons learned process, "...time spent in doing the work better is time well spent."

Whatever you do, it needs to be engaging and easy to use.

Some food for thought. I'll be interested in hearing what you decide and how you get on.

Duncan

P.S. I'm interested in hearing opinions about which is best - Google Docs or Microsoft Office 360 for collaborative working.
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kwalford
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Thanks Duncan, your post was helpful.

Like you alluded to at the end of your post, there is a danger that the process turns into an admin burden and people start to cease using it, then ultimately it ends up not adding much value.

Google Docs looks interesting; 15GB of free space is a lot when you consider the size of a word doc or spreadsheet (which is normally what lessons learnt would be captured on).

I need to do some more thinking on this, but I will report back on how I get on.

Thanks,
Kit
Jean-Paul Zuidema
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Hi Kit,

Although I do not have a solution available for you, besides using collaboration software like SharePoint in Office 365 (I use it as well), you might be interested in what we are doing for the future. We are a Berlin based startup company developing software specifically to support companies in projects (projectdecisionmaker.com). Our software converts project data (a.o. lessons learned) into relevant information for project teams, PMO and management.

Because we are a startup and still in development, I can use some help from people like yourself to make the product fit your needs. Anyway, if you are interested, please have a look at the website and our blog. We started the blog recently and will publish various articles and product features the coming weeks. So all comments are welcome!

Thanks,
Jean-Paul
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