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Forget "Lessons Learned"

Admit it. You’ve done this – spent months overcoming issues and challenges, to then deliver amazing results for your stakeholders, and while still feeling the effects of those last heroic deeds, you pull the team together to ask “what did we learn?” You create a nice report and file it away with the hope that it will help someone else someday. It’s an approach which captures groundbreaking discoveries like “Incomplete Requirements” or “Scope Creep.” But when was the last time a peer actually asked to see your Lessons Learned? Lessons Learned is as passé to implementations as myspace is to social media!

So, let’s be honest. This doesn’t work. Instead, here are some tips to streamline your “Leveraged Experience.” There are three significant categories in this approach: timing, context, and ownership.

Timing

Leave it: Waiting for a project to end before capturing key learning and pain points.

Leverage it: Identify and note issues as they happen.

It seems intuitive to wait for the end of a project to capture key learning and pain points. But when you’ve just completed a complex multiphase implementation, it is difficult to remember that painful issue that cost you 3 days of work 3 months ago. Time has the amazing ability to ease the pain. Remember the details of that end of the world break-up in High School? Hopefully not! We should always capture what works well, but the most significant gains for fine-tuning a process are made by actually identifying the problems right away.

Context

Leave it: Capturing and dumping “Lessons Learned” into a central repository hoping your team magically understands where the relevant info is, and how to use it going forward.

Leverage it: A consistent methodology or approach.

The foundation of any process improvement approach is consistency. Following a process consistently will allow you to easily identify opportunities when they arise. This methodology is your context. Within that methodology you will have logical groupings or categories. For Workday implementations, we have Plan, Architect, Build, Test and Deploy. You can target specific areas like integrations, data conversion, and change management. For every experience you capture, include a tag for the phase or activity in the methodology to which it is related. For example, “Requirements Gathering”!

Ownership

Leave it: Thinking team members will absorb the “Lessons Learned” without any real direction or plan of action.

Leverage it: Assign process ownership to subject matter experts.

Ownership is where the rubber hits the road, so who’s got the wheel? Again, look back to your methodology and its activities. Your subject matter experts should own their processes. You may have one overall process owner, or you may have a few in of each category of your methodology. Because you’ve been diligent in your process, your team now has organized, refined information to leverage and review on a regular basis – let’s say at least once a quarter though! – and make changes for that next tenant conversion.
Keeping information relevant and organized is the responsibility of every team member. By reviewing your organized content on a regular basis, you can look across multiple projects and see where problems and patterns develop. You’ll then identify if the methodology needs to change, or see if a training issue needs to be addressed. No more Lessons Learned - Leverage Your Experience. Change the way you work – continuously, contextually, and with ownership.

TAGS: Best Practices, Software-as-a-Service, Workday, communication, implementation, leveraged experience, methodolgy