Struggling with defining lessons learned and project reviews?

HPS’s experienced Portfolio Project Managers know that projects need governance and are constantly reviewed. But what’s the difference between a project reviews and lessons learned?

Both take a project and review what’s happened in a written report for next steps but it’s best to think of a project review as a kind of health check for your project. A project review gives the opportunity to reconsider the processes of project management rather than the actual outcomes of the project.

Sometimes a project manager or team might have to deviate from the normal processes or methods.  It can be useful to explain why that was the case. The deviations might provide useful improvements or they may have been an oversight. Either way a project review is a valuable internal check of what’s going on.

Project reviews are carried out by the PMO team. The focus needs to be a focus on governance, compliance to standards and processes and control. A project review can be done at any time during the project but generally it’s a one-off exercise. A good project review should support the project manager and team, providing an opportunity to uncover and correct poor practice.

Lessons learned meetings historically are typically held at the end of the project. These sessions tend to focus on the business outcomes and deliverables more than the process. Lessons learned meetings can be carried about by anyone but it’s usually the project manager who facilitates them.

But here has been a growing expectation that shorter lessons learned meetings should be built into the project plan at key points on a regular basis. Team members should be encouraged to raise lessons learned whenever there is something to learn. This demonstrates a bit of a trend towards capturing lessons learned in real time with the objective of doing something about it ‘right here, right now’ not just on future projects.

HPS portfolio project managers can help you look for those places where you can truly learn lessons as they should be implemented as soon as possible.

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