What have we learned?:

In part 2 I considered how I plan and control projects, and now I want to talk about how we learn during this process.

Do we get this right all the time? No of course not, and anyone who says they do is not doing a thorough enough retrospection on themselves. And this is where we get into the learning… I’ve spent the last 15 years learning how to run projects more efficiently. How to achieve higher levels of quality? How to manage delivery teams more consistently? How to work with a customer constructively? There are many other ‘how’s’ that I learned over that time that would frankly be embarrassing to discuss nowadays! But in my humble opinion the retrospective or lessons learned process is the most important in a project. It allows you to officially capture mistakes and as a team discuss them, fix them and most importantly, capture how that fix has been achieved. We then ensure that these lessons are fed back into our playbooks and guides to help ensure the benefit of these lessons are realised on our future projects. This increases efficiencies in time, money and helps prevent wasted resources. It also has the added impact on ensuring the quality of the teams outputs for our customers.

Frankly, if you are not questioning yourself or your team during and after a project, you are never going to get better. We’ve pushed our delivery team to be constantly looking at what they’ve done, how they did it and identifying areas where we can be better. Continuous improvement!

So what?:

There are loads of different delivery frameworks out there, and the theory to all of them makes it sound so easy. ‘Follow this way of working and you will be achieving your teams best’ but the actual practicalities of the real world are so much harder to navigate and require pragmatism, collaboration and a confidence to know when to bend the rules.

So, my top tips?

  • Always be prepared to rip up your plan and start again
  • Involve your customer as much as you possibly can
  • Don’t be afraid of scope creep, and be brave enough to have the tough conversations with your customer
  • Ensure you capture and discuss your mistakes so they don’t happen again
  • Ensure you capture and discuss your successes so you can make sure they do happen again
  • Remember, as long as you are Planning, Controlling and Learning, how you do it is less of a concern

These are only my top tips, built up over years of experience and through many mistakes. Try them yourself and let me know how you adapt them to fit your project and customer needs!