Friday 3 December 2010

Lessons Learned - looking for common factors

One the the advantages of running a routine lessons learned system, is that it allows you to identify the persistent problems, and the common causes of failure. So although you can take action as a result of the learning from each individual lesson, then if you also look through the lessons for common themes, you can find the deeper problems and the systemic issues that need to be addressed.

I did something like this many years ago. After running a lesson system for several years, we had 300 lessons, and were able to draw out the common reasons for project failure. These are listed below for your information, and we used this information to rework our project initiation process, to remove as many of these problem areas as possible

The project team is not an established team with common working practices.
  • The team contains staff new to the business and the project management system.
  • There are changes of staff within the project team, during the running of the project.
  • The project leader, or other key team members, is away at a critical time.
  • The entire team is new.
  • The team includes a mix of disciplines which do not usually work together.
The project involves new tools and techniques, which are unfamiliar to the project team.
  • The team need to learn new techniques.
  • The project involves the installation and use of new software.
  • The project leader is unfamiliar with the topic.
There are customer issues.
  • The customer changes during the project.
  • It is not clear who the customer is.
  • The customer is away at a critical stage in the project.
  • The project has an external customer.
  • The customer is unfamiliar with the topic of the project. 

 Satisfactory completion of the project relies on an external supplier.
  • Influencing another company is key to success.
  • Input or data is needed from another company.
  • The project relies heavily on contractors.
  • Input, resource or data are needed from another part of the business 
  • The project relies on specialist support.
 The project is a low priority 'back-burner' project.
  • The project has been given a long deadline and low priority.
The project is poorly defined.
  • The objectives or deliverables are not clear.
There are IT issues.
  • The project relies on an unusual degree of IT support.
  • The project involves non-routine IT use.
Business strategy changes during the project.
  • The project needs to be re-thought and redesigned.
  • The customer needs to be re-interrogated.
 The project is running at a busy time.

The project requires lots of people to buy in to the results.
  • The project may involve consultation with large numbers of staff.

 You might want to check your KM project against the list!

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