Lessons Learned

Nov 01, 2013

So I'm taking a Project Management Professional (PMP) class and one of the process we discussed is capturing lessons learned. The instructor emphasized how important this section is because it could be valuable information when working on future projects.

I was wondering if anybody did that for eLearning.  Do you actually take the time to sit with a client and capture what went right and wrong with the project or do you just try to "remember" the good and bad stuff? 

15 Replies
Tim Slade

Hi Jerson,

I can relate to this! While I was working at Kohl's Department Stores, I worked on the team which project manages the process of opening new stores and remodeling existing stores (my function was to organize the training component for all of the new employees). Needless to say, the process of opening 12 - 15 stores at a time, twice a year, with several hundred brand-new people, is a huge undertaking and very complicated. We always made a point to meet after each cycle to go through our victories and determine what we could have done differently. The key to doing it successfully is to not make it a blame game. There will always be people who “drop the ball” or unforeseen circumstances that throw things off – but if you can make it a positive experience, everyone is bound to walk away as stronger project managers because of it.

Whenever I’m talking about team dynamics, as it relates to project management, I think back to an example Steve Jobs gave about “polished rocks.” It’s a great examples of how I think teams should work.

I think this same concept can apply to any eLearning project as well. I have done this in the past with some clients - and other times, I've taken the time myself (without involving the client) to mentally make notes for what I should differently in the future. I think it depends on the client, the scale of the project and my total involvement.

Jerson  Campos

Hey Tim,

Thanks for the input.  In the military we would do this as well after every "Mission". We called it AARs (After Action Reviews)  We capture items under 4 topics:

What should HAVE happened.

What DID happen.

What went right.

What went wrong.

This was usually collected and stored for reference in case somebody else wanted to attempt what we did and learn from our experience.

Jerson  Campos

Just finishing up the first week. I'm sure I meet the requirements for the PMP, but not sure if I should go for that or the CAPM.  I enjoy learning about Project Management (even if it is a little out there sometimes), but the main reason I'm doing this is too validate my experience and keep myself marketable in this unsure economy.

Sheila Bulthuis

Jerson, I think lessons learned meetings/after action reviews are important, even if it's just you thinking about it by yourself.    One place I worked had an after-action review for every major project (I didn't realize until a few months go that the term comes from the military).  Really, really helpful in terms of not repeating your mistakes.

I've done this with a couple of clients when I had completed the first project for them and knew others would be coming - I framed it as "let's talk about how we keep increasing the effectiveness of how we work together."  It was very well-received.

Jerson  Campos

@ Nancy

I do remember a few employers asking for this certification while I was doing some job hunting a year ago. One thing my instructor said is if you said they prefer project management experience then they are looking for a PMP.

@ Nicholas

PMP is a global certification.  The procedures and techniques learned to manage a project from beginning to end can transfer anywhere. You can specialize if you want though.


Do you keep a formal document or just take some notes? I think combining this with some work performance data (another PMP term) could help us create better estimates.  

Jerson  Campos

Hey Nich,

For a PMP there are some requirements to meet.  If you have a degree, you need 4500 hours of documented project management experience, If you don't have a degree, its 7500 hours.  And they have to be actual projects you managed.  The PMI (project management institute) will sometimes conduct audits, especially if they see some red flags go up.

If you don't meet the requirements, there is always the CAPM option. Its Certified Associate Project Manager. It just means you have had some formal training in project management and passed the test.

Sheila Bulthuis

Jerson - 4500 hours!?  Wow. That's a lot of time...especially if you're not in a job where PM is your full-time responsibility.

To answer your question about documentation, I mostly just keep notes.  I do have a few documents I've created on my processes, etc. - just things I use internally to help me be more efficient, keep things on track, etc.  SO I do sometimes add info/notes to those after one of those lessons learned conversations/thinking sessions.

As far as work performance data, I've usually heard that used to refer to a project in-progress, but I do collect and "analyze" (I use that term really loosely!) data after each project is finished. This includes billable hours, non-billable hours, my hours vs. sub-contractor hours, fees charged to the client, and project duration.  All that has helped me TONS in estimating/bidding and planning individual projects, and it's also helped me make some broader decisions about how I run my business.

Jerson  Campos

Yea it is a lot of time. But there are some things that you may not have thought of as project management that would count toward that time. Of course they do look for people trying to pass some things off as project management experience when it isn't.

I"m thinking of tracking some data like how long it took me to finish a course, how many slides did it have, level of interactivity, was it media heavy.  Try to figure out how fast I work and complete projects. This way I can more accurately say, 1 hour or 60 slides at level 2 interactivity will take me so-and-so time. Mostly to get a baseline for some estimates.

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