Saturday, June 30, 2007

Planning for Future Project Development

What lessons did you learn from your last project? Whether the project was a success or not, it can teach you valuable lessons you can incorporate into your future projects.

However, applying lessons learned from past projects to future projects usually does not happen automatically. You must plan for future project development. By following the two strategies described below, you can ensure that you have an appropriate plan in place, so you can learn from past projects and manage future projects more effectively.

1. Gather project data.
You should begin by examining your data. If you have been documenting the progress of your project from the start, you can use the data you have collected to identify the most effective techniques to incorporate into your future projects. You also can implement the following three strategies to gather project data.
  • Postmortem meeting. You can hold a project postmortem meeting, where all members can openly discuss the positive and negative aspects of the project. A postmortem meeting gives all team members an opportunity to discuss issues and brainstorm ways to eliminate similar problems in future projects. This strategy is useful only when participants have had a chance to review the project.
  • E-mail summary. An e-mail summary from each participant is also a great strategy for gathering information on the good and bad aspects of the project. This strategy is useful when time is of the essence or when team members do not have time available to meet.
  • Written reports. Written reports that describe the team members' experiences throughout the life of the project are useful when written documentation is required. For example, use this strategy when senior managers request a report.
2. Document the information.
Once the project information is gathered, it is imperative to document this data for future project development. There are three strategies you can use to document the information you've gathered.
  • Develop a checklist. A checklist is effective as a reference tool for similar projects in the future. A checklist normally contains the positive points from the present project that your team can apply during specific stages of future projects.
  • Create a top-10 risk list. A top-10 risk list contains negative points from your current project. It is an effective way to help your project team develop strategies for the elimination of similar risks in future projects.
  • Prepare a formal report. You would prepare a formal report when documentation of both the positive and negative aspects of a project is required. For example, this strategy might be useful when the data requires a more thorough evaluation by senior managers.
Each project you manage will require the use of different strategies for gathering data and preparing this data for future project development. With a bit of foresight, you can easily determine the appropriate strategies for gathering and documenting data, and ensuring that lessons learned are applied to your future projects.

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