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Lessons Learned: Secret Code of Project Management

Lessons learned are the last outcome of a project. As we have explored in our previous articles, every project has a  life cycle which includes four major phases. These are starting, organizing and preparing, execution and closing. Lessons learned are executed after the closing of the project. Documenting the lessons learned is a very important organizational process asset of a company. They are taken into account when initiating another project.

lessons learned project management

What is included in lessons learned? How the lessons learned are used in the next projects?

If you have questions about the lessons learned in Project Management, we will cover all of the answers for you in this article. If you want to gain a more detailed knowledge about Project Management, you can check out our CAPM training course. This online training will guide you during 35+ Contact Hours and it contains 300+ Lectures about Project Management.  

Lessons Learned in Project Management: What is included?

Lessons learned

  • What was done right: The best practices applied during the project are recorded in the document. By this way, the future projects get inspired from these best practices. Also, they have the benefit from these right implications.
  • What was done wrong: Wrong decisions, wrong implementations, or impediments that caused project team to deliver slower outputs are all documented. The things that could have been done to not face similar problems again are also documented.
  • What could have been done better: If the project could be re-done what could be done better? Did the project had problems due to some constraints such as resource availability? Did the project undergo through some planning weaknesses? These should be all documented along with the reasons.

What should Lessons Learned in Project Management Cover?

Lessons Learned

  • Technical aspects of the project: The documentation should include the schedule performance, cost performance and quality performance of the project. For instance, what was the planned budget and what is the completion budget? What was the planned schedule and what is the completion schedule? These kinds of planned values and actual values must be included. As a result, their variances should give an insight on the overall performance of the project.
  • Work breakdown structure of the project: Risk planning, schedule planning, cost planning, procurement planning etc. and all management plans must be archived in the documentation. They will be helpful for future references.
  • Recommendations on management: The documentation should give recommendations on management, and also communications and leadership. If there were communication mistakes, these should be mentioned. What could have been done for better communication must also be mentioned in the document.  


The Role of the Lessons Learned

Lessons learned

This figure depicts the role of the lessons learned. Why are they important, and how can they help improving the new projects in an organization?

First of all, before starting a new project, the organizational process assets library of the organization is searched. The reason behind that is to check whether there are any useful hints that can help in the new project.

Then, those useful hints will be used during the new project. Naturally, there will be new lessons learned throughout the new project as well. These will be gathered throughout the project life cycle like in the previous one. The new knowledge is used in other current projects of the organization. At the end of the project, when the documentation is finalized, and placed under the organizational process assets library of the organization, they will also be used in future projects.

Lessons Learned


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