The first step to managing project knowledge.
Why do we not seem to give the management of project knowledge the attention that it deserves on our projects? Why do we agree (most of the time) that capturing our lessons learned are essential, but we do not seem to get the time to do it correctly?
We are supposed to learn from our mistakes, and we sometimes do, but we do not always learn from somebody else’s mistakes, nor do we create an environment where they can learn from each other’s mistakes.
Theoretically, it is not a complicated process. Document all the good and the bad things that happen and, in the future, avoid the bad things and pursue the good things. Unfortunately, in practice, it does not seem so easy, and lots of times, it leaves us paying lip-service to these best practices without really doing anything about it.
What are the dangers of not managing project knowledge effectively on our projects? Do we really want to make the same mistakes over and over again? Are we content with not using every opportunity to improve the way we manage our projects? The big question is: Can we afford to make the same mistakes and not improve the way we run our projects?
Some of us do not always capture lessons learned because we do not know how to do it effectively, do not have the time or management does not require us to do it. Sometimes we capture it, but nobody ever uses it mainly because it is not in a format that helps us to understand the lesson learned.
Managing project knowledge can give our project or our company a critical advantage in a project-driven world that is becoming more and more competitive. But, as with so many other aspects of project management, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Managing knowledge does not only involve just documenting lessons learned so it can be shared, nor does it involve just capturing lessons learned at the end of the project to use in future projects. Some lessons learned can be documented, and some experiences require person-to-person techniques to share the knowledge that resides in the minds of team members that have been there and have the t-shirt to prove it.
We need to create an organizational environment where people value the benefits of sharing knowledge. Where people are not afraid to acknowledge and share their blunders but where people are encouraged and rewarded to share the ups and the downs encountered on their projects.
Without a trusting no-blame culture where management and other stakeholders actively support and encourage knowledge management, we may never realize the full potential of our project teams.
About the Author
Having been a practicing consultant in project management for more than twenty five years, Dave Fourie’s long career in program and project management brought him in contact with various project management methodologies and best practices in private as well as public organizations. This includes PMBOK, Method 123 as well as PRINCE2 environments in the fields of software development, service delivery, quality and general management. His experience also includes providing training in project management, quality management, and business analysis since 1999. As a freelance trainer, he has obtained invaluable experience on the best training practices utilized by various national and international training providers.
This includes training entry level to experienced project managers (including PMP certification preparation) in project management and related specialist aspects such as project risk management, project quality management, project contracting and project scheduling. Dave brings his theoretical knowledge linked to vast practical experience into the training environment with a genuine desire to assist delegates in becoming practicing project management professionals. Valuing a relaxed and enjoyable learning experience, he loves sharing his passion for project
management through actual examples dished up with a touch of humor. Certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) since 1998, he also holds several other portfolios, program and project management certifications such as certificates in Portfolio, Programmed and Project Offices (P3O), Managing Successful Programs (MSP) and in PRINCE2. He also holds certifications in IT Service Management (ITIL) and Total Quality Management (TQM).