If your project is set up with phases, it may be a good idea to have a lessons-learned meeting at the end of each phase. (Why wait until the end of a three year project when there are some valuable lessons at the end of Phase 1?). Also, if there is a major event that occurs (good or bad) it is important to get the info out so other project managers know that it may affect them.
The standard steps for the lessons learned process are:
Typically, at the meeting we ask what went right, what went wrong and what needs to be improved? The main issue with these face to face meetings is that all the input may not come out due to team members who are afraid to criticize the process.
So, if you have team members that dont want to open up take a survey. Typically at the end of my lesson-learned meetings I pass out pads of post it notes and ask team members to write down a survey question and some possible answers. Many times this involvement lets the team ask their question. Once you have the questions for the survey questions you can use freeonlinesurveys.com or if you have SharePoint it also has a survey feature to post the answers.
So, what questions do you ask at a lessons-learned meeting? There are some classic ones that I will cover below, but there are always some questions that are project or organization specific:
Finally, you need a common location for your lessons-learned findings. This can be as simple as a shared drive or a custom built database or the latest trend is to use a wiki. If you insert your organizations lessons learned into one wiki you now have a searchable database as long as you tag your entries.
Just remember, without lessons learned your PMO or PM process will never have a chance to improve.
Ryan Endres, PMP, is the manager of the PMO at the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Medicine. He has a proven track-record of improving and impacting corporations through the redesign of processes and utilization of enterprise technology solutions. You can find Ryan on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.