Documenting now to prepare for the future

Documenting now to prepare for the future

Karen Bens Posted 07 June 2020

COVID-19. An invisible enemy - A pandemic. Humanity has been plagued by disease and illnesses since the beginning of human existence. Even in the last century there have been many pandemics: Spanish flu, Influenza A, HIV, etc. These outbreaks leave a trail of tragedy but also presents an opportunity to learn. The documentation of learnings from pandemics are valuable to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also for future pandemics. Guidelines that are currently used, for example limiting gatherings, self-isolation and curtailing traveling, are lessons learned from the Spanish flu.

The Project Management Institutes’ (PMI) Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBoK) defines ‘lessons learned’ as the knowledge gained from the process of performing a project. Unusual events provide us with new experiences, though these events can become common and the learnings from these events standard practice. The purpose of a ‘lessons learned’ process is to define the activities required to successfully capture and use ‘lessons learned’. This process includes five steps: identify, document, analyze, store and retrieve.

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A good formalized documentation process is key to capture and keep track of any ‘lessons learned’ from the beginning of the project. A good place to start is looking at previous projects within your company and see which ‘lessons learned’ have been captured in the past that might be relevant. Maybe your first ‘lesson learned’ will be how important it is to capture ‘lesson learned’ when you read incomplete or insufficient ‘lessons learned’. Most ‘lessons learned’ are often not captured until the end of the project, so the documentation relies on a good memory. Time should be taken to document learnings throughout the project, for example during team meetings, and explore them as learning opportunities. ‘Lessons learned’ include positive as well as negative experiences: what was done right, what was done wrong and what could have been done better. It is important to review the ‘lessons learned’ by the end of the project with the team to make sure the list is complete and correct. This way you can help reduce the odds of other teams making the same mistakes. Similar as a pandemic, these captured learnings will be helpful for the next project or team.

At Modis, we prioritize the development of standards and creation of knowledge management, which is a principal component of our organization. Gathering, documenting, and communicating acquired knowledge is key and enables us to continue to grow and provide successful support to our clients, in all different aspects of project management.

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