Close Project or Phase Lessons Learned for the PMP Certification Exam

The results of the project or phase closure process for the purposes of the PMP certification exam include a project review with lessons learned and a final report that you will distribute to the appropriate stakeholders. The project review achieves two outcomes: a lessons-learned document and a final project report.
Learn from projects
To ensure that it will benefit future projects, conducting a meaningful lessons-learned exercise takes time and effort. Lessons learned differ from documenting all the reasons why a project was not successful. It takes discipline to identify the root cause of good as well as not so good results. Additionally, you need to document it in a way that it can be used and useful for future projects.
Here are some quick examples of poor documentation and then some better documentation. While each scenario may be relevant to your project, non-great examples are not fruitful information to pass on.
Not so great
Don’t expect Jim to work on the weekends because he has kids who play soccer.
better
Trust in the Team Operating Agreement that people have the availability to work overtime so they can fit it into their schedule if necessary.
Not so great
Be sure to ask Jennifer from the marketing department if she has anything to add before setting your budget.
better
Conduct a full stakeholder analysis to identify all stakeholders who will have requirements for the project.
who to talk to
Here are some of the ways you can conduct a lessons-learned exercise. You can meet with all the stakeholders and share what worked and what they will do differently next time. Another method is to interview people individually or in small groups to obtain more specific and possibly sensitive information. You should include suppliers and vendors in the lessons learned.
You can get the information from the Contract Termination Report and Procurement Review, or you can interview the contractor about his experience working on the project. The point is that you want a wide range of inputs to the lessons-learned document.
Don’t wait until the end of the project to collect lessons-learned information. At the very least, you should gather this information at the end of each stage – especially for longer projects! By the end of a long project, some team members will have moved on, and most team members will have forgotten about the events that occurred in the beginning stages.
For those topics that you believe can help improve project performance in the future, you should share the results with management, the Project Management Office (PMO), and other project managers. The same goes for sharing events that went badly in your project so that others don’t find themselves in the same situation.
Two very important stakeholders that you should contact for information about your project are the sponsor and the client. In addition to identifying areas for improvement and areas that worked well, conduct a satisfaction survey.
This can be informal, such as asking how they can do a better job of satisfying them in the future, or you can submit an online survey. Ask open-ended questions when asked how the project is going from their point of view. This will help maintain and improve your working relationship.
An important part of closing a phase and the project is to measure stakeholder satisfaction. The obvious stakeholder you want to check with is the customer. However, don’t forget other stakeholders, such as your team members and the sponsor. If something you’re doing isn’t working for team members, you want to know about the issue so you can address it.
What to talk about
When collecting information about the project, have specific and general questions designed to get people talking. You might want to gather information about specific areas of the project, such as
Effectiveness of requirements gathering
How well scope was controlled
The quality of the schedule
How well communication worked
Effectiveness of risk management
Your lessons learned become part of the organization’s knowledge base, which means that they will be OPAs for the next project.