Saturday, November 15, 2008

Resources to Help You Avoid Past Mistakes

Somebody once said, "Every time history repeats itself the price goes up." If companies are aware of past experiences, they can save themselves from the expense of repeating mistakes.

One way to avoid past mistakes is to pay attention to historical information when developing your risk plans. Two sources of historical information are especially helpful in meeting this objective: past project files and published information.

Past project files
There are three types of project files that you can use to examine historical data: previous project documentation; the lessons-learned report; and the risk response plan.

You can find previous project documentation in the form of outputs from other planning processes. However, you should limit your search to documentation generated from similar projects.

Another good resource for identifying risks and avoiding past mistakes is the lessons-learned report. This document includes lessons learned from past projects, a description of the problems encountered along with the solutions to these problems.

The risk response plan file contains information on the processes put in place to monitor, review, and update the project risk. An examination of these risks will show that some risks are greater at specific stages of the project.

Published information
Other valuable sources of historical information are available in the form of published information. Published information which may give insights into past mistakes includes:
  • Commercial databases - Commercial databases are sources that you can access to obtain professionally compiled information. A common example of historical information that commercial databases can provide you with is statistics.
  • Academic studies - Academic studies may focus on risk factors of projects similar to the one you are managing. A great deal of time and research often goes into academic studies. You can benefit greatly from exploring this information source when developing your risk plan.
  • Benchmarking report - Benchmarking involves an examination of your competitors' business practices or products. A benchmark report could give you insight into how other companies carried out similar projects and handled risks.
When researching the possible risks for a project, you can use historical information, gathered internally or externally, to avoid past mistakes.

Past projects completed within your company can provide a gold mine of lessons learned. But you can also look outside the company at how other companies and organizations have dealt with similar projects and their associated risks.

Historical information can provide you with important insights into the risks for the projects you are currently managing. If you have researched pertinent historical information, you will be able to deal with project risks more effectively.

No comments: