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Reinforcement for Running Retrospectives

Reinforcement for Running Retrospectives
By Kiron D. Bondale

Retrospectives are a common, regularly practiced ceremony on projects managed using an agile delivery method.

But why stop there?

There’s no reason that retrospectives couldn’t be applied to traditional projects too, it’s just that some improvement ideas might not be immediately applicable in a non-iterative lifecycle.

But won’t it cost a lot more effort to conduct regular retrospectives rather than waiting till we get to the end of our projects? To defuse that concern, here are some reasons why retrospectives are superior to traditional lessons learned approaches.

We all want to help our company but charity begins at home! Why wait till the end of a project where the only beneficiaries of learnings will be teams on future projects if there is an opportunity to reinforce good practices and course correct on others to the benefit of your project?

Sharing knowledge is a good first step, but actually applying that knowledge is when we now whether the lessons are valid or not. Read the Complete Article

Profound “Aha’s” and “Duhhh’s”

Profound “Aha’s” and “Duhhh’s”
By Ammar W. Mango

Project Management practitioners call them lessons learned. These are lessons from things gone right and things gone not so right on the project. It is easy to talk about things gone right but not the more important lessons; opportunities for improvement, or what some call mistakes.

I want to leave dry Project Management Lingo and stick to what happens in real life. In reality, lessons learned are broken down into two categories: Ahaaa’s and Duhhh’s. Aha moments are those of discovery and learning. Usually they have to be profound to provoke an Ahaaa! the longer the “aaaa” part the more profound the experience. Then there are “duh” moments. These are not as welcomed. They usually are statements made by others when we finally see what is supposed to be an obvious basic fact. These are profound, but we do not know that when we make the mistakes. Read the Complete Article

What’s Wrong with Lessons Learned Sessions?

What’s Wrong with Lessons Learned Sessions?
By Andrea Brockmeier

What’s wrong with lessons learned sessions done at the end of a project? If the sentiments of my project management training students are any indication, plenty.

The complaints are many and varied:

“They take too long and we don’t have time.”
“At that point, the project is over so people don’t really care anymore.”
“By the time we get to it, the people who worked on the project are no longer around.”

And, by far the most common compliant:

“We don’t have a good way to go back and look at previous project lessons learned to apply to future projects, so why bother?”

On the whole, my students don’t find lessons learned to be time well spent.

In many ways, I agree. Consider that you may stand more to gain by looking at what you should be doing more or less of within the project you’re currently working on than you do trying to capture ideas for the next project – whenever and whatever that is. Read the Complete Article

Smart Project Endings Add Serious Value

Smart Project Endings Add Serious Value
By Timothy Prosser

Failing to effectively end projects can have high but hidden costs. Some companies are so buried in the latest and hottest project or in “fighting fires” that they fail to close projects constructively. In doing so they not only miss opportunities to generate extra value for the company and everyone involved, but also to maintain the quality of management information (financial and other types) and prevent or limit cost overruns. When projects aren’t formally ended some workers may go on working on them unaware that it is time to move on to other work. Other workers may find reason to continue to charge the project for their time, especially if they run into a slack period without enough work to keep them busy (which happens naturally in many product development organizations or in highly seasonal work). This is especially likely where “charging overhead” has a negative stigma attached to it and project charge codes are not shut off. Read the Complete Article

Project Management: Paying Attention to What Went Well

Project Management: Paying Attention to What Went Well
By Chad Baker

In a recent lessons learned session, a team member noted that responses to “What went well?” were often overlooked in favor of “What did not go so well?” responses. He specifically felt that the former lessons were only captured as quick “pats-on-the-back,” while the latter were reasons to take a hard look at the team and each individual for what went wrong and what must be improved.

While I didn’t agree completely, I believe it’s natural for a team to dive deeper into problem areas than to review areas where the team is strong. Thankfully, we had an excellent example during the session that demonstrated the value of taking extra time to discuss a positive lesson and how future projects might benefit.

A Closer Look Uncovers Responsive Design and Mobility Success

The lesson was initially presented as, “Responsive design worked out well on this project.” Obviously, this is a fairly generic statement needing further definition to apply as a lesson learned. Read the Complete Article

Project Post-Mortem

Project Post-Mortem
By Deanna Chaney

For two decades, I worked as both a technical writer and an instructional designer in the IT industry. My projects always supported a hardware or software rollout, rather than being the core deliverable. Rarely have I seen a project completed on time. Typically, the rollout is late and fraught with problems. Gartner Research, noting that “failure” is a subjective term, puts the failure rate for IT projects at 24 percent (Handler, 2011).


One particular project involved rolling out a hardware and software solution for a large retail company. I was responsible for writing the product documentation, developing a series of e-Learning modules, and creating and teaching instructor-led training (ILT) at the pilot store. Within two months of the pilot, the equipment was pulled out and the project went back to the drawing board. This occurred for two reasons: (1) rejection of the new concept by a large number of the store’s customers and (2) buggy operation of the hardware and software. Read the Complete Article

International Rescue – Recovering a Failing Project

International Rescue – Recovering a Failing Project
By Allen Ruddock

As an experienced project manager you often get dropped in to a failing project to turn it around. How should you go about this. I’d like to describe a situation I found myself in earlier in my career and draw some lessons from the experience.

Setting the scene

The project in question was to implement a new back office system to settle trades in fixed income securities – corporate and government bonds (or loan instruments). A package solution had been chosen and the company was working with the supplier to enhance the package to meet their needs (there’s the first hint of problems!).

At the same time as implementing the system for corporate bonds, it was also decided to enhance the system for a new trading mechanism for UK government bonds, otherwise known as gilts (so called gilt edged securities because they were backed by the UK government). Read the Complete Article

Infographic: 4 Lessons in Project Management from the Renaissance

Infographic: 4 Lessons in Project Management from the Renaissance
By Tatyana Mishel

Today’s projects don’t typically take 120 years to finish, and leadership doesn’t usually come in the form of a royal couple whose organization is a European country. But that was the Renaissance for you.

Still, history has its persevering way of giving us wisdom for the ages. Here are 4 epic renaissance projects and partnerships — and the lessons they model for our 21st century projects.

Renaissance Project Management

Tatyana Mishel works at LiquidPlanner, an online project management tool with predictive schedule and dynamic collaboration. Read the Complete Article

Project Management Lessons from the Olympics Games

Project Management Lessons from the Olympics Games
By Glenn Remoreras

I have always been fascinated about how developed countries excel in the Olympics. In the recently concluded summer games in London, 6 countries from G8 were in the top ten of the medal standings. Do countries’ economies have anything to do with how their athletes fair in games? Absolutely! How?

Allow me to use some project management concepts to explain.

Portfolio Management – Strategy in Sports and Funding

Obviously, developed countries have more resources, i.e. money, to invest in sports development and therefore, more and better sports programs translate to more chances of success. The U.S. Olympic Committee shelled out close to $250 million in 2008 to help American athletes win 110 medals in Beijing. That is a huge investment in a national sports program (and this excludes funding coming from corporate sponsorship for more popular teams). The portfolio managers — or I should say Olympic committee leaders — determine goals, value indicators and programs that can help fulfill its overall sports goal. Read the Complete Article

Importance of Lessons Learned in Project Management

Importance of Lessons Learned in Project Management
By Dianne Davenport

Without lessons learned, Newton’s physics may not have superseded Aristotle’s physics
Without Newton’s physics, Einstein may not have theorized on the curvature of time and space
Without the theory on the curvature of time and space, we may never have time travel
Without time travel, I may never go back in time to pack my teddy bear before going away to camp.
Therefore, conduct your lessons learned so no child is sent off to camp without a teddy bear!!

Lessons learned is a theory, or conclusion, based on evidence at a given time and describes what went wrong (as well as what went right) throughout the lifecycle of a project. Although it’s completed during the project closeout process, it should occur during the entire project lifecycle to ensure all information is captured and documented.

Consequences of not having a project review of lessons learned are the increased likelihood of repeating actions that might have caused:

  • Project failures
  • Budget overruns
  • Scope creep
  • Reduced quality from expectations
  • Missed scheduled deadline

Lessons learned provide their greatest value when they are (a) documented, (b) communicated, © archived, and (d) fluid and adaptable to allow evolved conclusions. Read the Complete Article

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