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Conducting A Lessons-learned Review – Project Closure (#4 in the series How to Close Out a Project)
By Michael D. Taylor

This series discloses important aspects of closing out a project by describing the following aspects:

The primary purpose of a lessons learned review is to assess the overall success of a project and to learn from your mistakes. Often it is best to conduct a survey before holding the lessons-learned meeting.
Survey. A lessons-learned survey can be sent to team members during or after a project, to solicit their feedback on how the project was conducted. It applies to any project; and questions can easily be added to focus on additional areas for your project. This survey can address the following aspects:

  • General Project Issues and Communication
  • Schedule Estimation Issues
  • Design, Implementation, Test Processes
  • Perceived Process Issues
  • Closing

Purpose. The purpose of the survey is to capture lessons learned from the project while they’re fresh in people’s mind. The results can be summarized and recommendations passed on to future teams.

How. Send a survey through email or on paper to members of the project team. Let them know that results can be kept anonymous (to encourage people to be frank in their assessments). Send out this survey before any group “lessons learned” meetings. The feedback you receive from the survey can help point to particular areas that should get special exploration in the group lessons learned meeting.

What. The survey can address any pertinent items including the effectiveness of project communications, an evaluation of project processes such as problem solving, change control management, decision making, project tracking, stakeholder management, customer satisfaction, etc.

MICHAEL D. TAYLOR, M.S. in systems management, B.S. in electrical engineering, has more than 30 years of project, outsourcing, and engineering experience. He is principal of Systems Management Services, and has conducted project management training at the University of California, Santa Cruz Extension in their PPM Certificate program for over 13 years, and at companies such as Sun Microsystems, GTE, Siemens, TRW, Loral, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Inprise. He also taught courses in the UCSC Extension Leadership and Management Program (LAMP), and was a guest speaker at the 2001 Santa Cruz Technology Symposium. His website is www.projectmgt.com.

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