How to learn from project experiences
In a world where organisations are on a 'hamster wheel' of projects, rushing from one to the next there’s a little or no time to pause, take stock, record lessons learned, and make the changes and improvements that would make the difference to the next project.
We explore how stopping and taking time both during, and after, a project to note the learnings and experiences can
- help mitigate risk;
- capture knowledge and innovation;
- improve resourcing;
- minimise project failure;
- improve project profitability.
Let’s dive in.
1. Realise the mistakes
In realising you need to improve you need to first have the courage to admit when something is, or wasn't, working. You also need stakeholders or a management team that are willing to listen. Sometimes project managers or project team members know that something is not right but don’t have a way of feeding it back or up. They may not have the confidence to raise the issue or feel that it’s not their responsibility. Counter this by adopting a culture of trust and accountability. Offering your workforce training and guidelines gives your people the confidence to spot, feedback and escalate problems.
Related article: how to gain stakeholder buy-in for your projects.
2. Stop and fix the problem
Halting a project to fix the problem may seem time consuming when you are on a deadline. However, in the long-run this could be a far more cost-effective option than waiting until the end of a project. By then the client has complained about the problem (that was not fixed at the time) and is considering not paying for that part of the project that went wrong, which hurts your budget and ultimately could result in project failure.
3. Look after your own
Did your project fail because your best person for the job was not available? Had he been allocated to another project by mistake? Your people and their skills are your assets and what makes an organisation successful. Forgetting about this can have a dramatic effect on your Business. Sending consultants on-site without the work means wasted time, skills and ultimately budget. Having clear visibility of all your people, the tasks they are working on and the time they are spending on activities ensures that your people are allocated to the right projects at the right time.
Related article: 3 ways to optimise your resources
4. Listen to feedback
Having regular project team and stakeholder meetings is much more productive than a “Client Escalation” meeting, once a project is in danger of failure. Take the time to reach out to colleagues and team members to re-enage and listen to feedback, especially if they are working remotely.
Related article: how to manage remote project teams effectively
5. Have a risk mitigation plan
Back-track to see where problems started. You can then develop and implement a mitigation plan and strategy to minimise the imminent and indeed future risk of the same issue occurring again. A successful risk mitigation strategy that is built into your project plan from the start is more likely to be successful than working it out afresh.
Related article: 3 steps to better managing risk in your projects
6. Use the lessons learned
Once you've discussed what you learned from the project, it is important to document the lessons and experience as part of your knowledge management. In this way you can build up a knowledge bank and use lessons learned in the last project for both existing and new projects.
Related article: how to use knowledge management to future proof your organisation
7. Consider Professional Services Automation software
PSA software can help you gather your lessons learned and use them to drive innovation, consistency and improved performance in your projects.
Hydra intelligent software increases visibility and efficiency in your projects and using it’s 'blueprinting' technology, it can document all your lessons learned and process improvements in one place.
Hydra's resource management tools and automated, real-time monitoring and reporting, gives you the power to estimate the cost of your projects more accurately, track progress and increase resource efficiency by up to 58% meaning that you always have your best people available when and where you need them most.
Hydra PSA also drives your knowledge management and has the potential to revolutionise the way you plan, manage and run your projects.
If you would like to see Hydra in action, our free demo video is just a few clicks away.