Most project managers understand the importance of documenting “lessons learned” on current and future projects. Capturing and regularly updating the lessons learned can keep the project on track. In the long run, it can also help continually improve how the Division of IT executes projects.

What are “Lessons Learned”?

“Lessons learned” is the knowledge gained from the process of conducting a project. Including the positive and negative aspects will hopefully help us to repeat the good and eliminate the mistakes.

The PMBOK defines this process as a “…set of interrelated actions and activities performed to achieve a specified set of products, results or services” (Project Management Institute, 2021). The lessons learned process involves five steps with activities that will capture and use the knowledge gleaned. The steps include:

  1. Identify – identify the comments and recommendations that can be learned. These can be a valuable knowledge asset for future projects.
  2. Document – note the detailed lessons learned during discussions in a report that all participants can respond to. Distribute this report to the entire project team and retain it for future reference.
  3. Analyze – analyze and organize the lessons learned so they can be applied and shared with other teams. They can improve project management or be used in training sessions.
  4. Store – retain the lessons learned reports on a shared drive or in a cloud solution, making them available to all project teams.
  5. Retrieve – when storing the lessons learned reports, set up a keyword search option to make them easily discoverable at any time during or after the project.

How to Document Lessons Learned

Use the Lessons Learned Template to create a Lessons Learned document for your project during project close. Upload the Lessons Learned document to the PMO SharePoint site using status Lessons Learned. Please include the project name in the document title for easy access. All project lessons learned will be reviewed by the PMO to see if the project needs to go to Curative Analysis for further review.

For any questions about the Lessons Learned process, please contact the Project Management Office.

Project Management Institute. (2021). A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK guide) (7th ed.). Project Management Institute.