A Career of Significant Project Management Lessons Learned

by E.R. Williams

It's about Management Control and Quality

The following is a list of project management lessons learned that I have identified and documented.

  1. A project manager must not only be responsible, but accountable, for the project.
  2. Conduct business with high ethics.
  3. Use Best Practices, tailored to the project.
  4. Prepare a complete activity/work or task breakdown, reviewed by key team members and accepted by the customer.
  5. Document lessons learned during the phase/process (requirements definition/analysis, design, implementation/construction, test, delivery/deployment, and support/maintenance) after each activity, task, and deliverable.
  6. Understand the proposal, contract and standards referenced for use on a project/program.
  7. Obtain senior management support.
  8. Have customers and users participation in the beginning, and throughout, the project.
  9. During the sale and proposal stage ensure key people are involved and participate in reviews (e.g., PMs, developers, or other leads).
  10. Ensure all team members (including client/users) understand the project plan (get buy-in from leads/inputs to the project plan).
  11. Document other agreements or expectations in the "Future Consideration" of the requirements document.
  12. Provide realistic estimates of project activities.
  13. Programs/Projects must be aligned with the overall business plan and strategy.
  14. Perform CM and QA to ensure compliance and that quality is built into the product, as both begin at the beginning of the project. Don't confuse configuration management with just documentation and don't confuse just testing with quality assurance.
  15. Product requirements must be defined, understood and documented (specified) up front (Must be traceable back to business requirements and throughout development, mutually agreed to and signed off).
  16. A company's culture and politics cannot be ignored.
  17. Prepare a traceability matrix.
  18. Identify, document, and manage risks before execution of, and during, a project.
  19. Develop a communication plan and execute it.
  20. Document terminology and definitions. Include in planning and requirements document.
  21. Ensure that an auditing and review process are performed for oversight and to ensure consistency.
  22. Don't overlook team building - having the right people with the right skill set.
  23. Perform usability testing.
  24. Establish a centralized repository - containing a knowledge base, lessons learned, project information, templates, etc.
  25. Ensure knowledge transfer and training takes place.
  26. Document and share lessons learned.
  27. Ensure mechanism for feedback is in place.
  28. Monitor and obtained customer satisfaction/dissatisfaction throughout the project.
  29. Conduct project close out - Ensure that (not limited to or in a particular order):
    1. A project close out meeting is conducted with the customer/client to define that all close out criteria have been satisfied (financial included)
    2. Any issues are addressed
    3. Lessons learned are shared
    4. All deliverables (product includedJ) were signed off and delivered
    5. A repository is set up (or was) and all documentation/data archived
    6. All team members are released from the project formally
    7. The project success criteria is reviewed
    8. The project performance and evaluation reports are completed
    9. A team close out meeting was conducted to thank the team
    10. A survey/evaluation sheet or form for customer/client input is left with client
    11. A letter for close out is signed by customer and project manager

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